Dada Presentism: An Essay on Art and History by Maria Stavrinaki

By Maria Stavrinaki

Dada is usually celebrated for its suggestions of outrage and competition, yet in Dada Presentism, Maria Stavrinaki offers a brand new photograph of Dada paintings and writings as a lucid mirrored image on heritage and the position of artwork inside of it. the unique (Berlin-based) Dadaists' acute historic attention and their sleek adventure of time, she contends, expected the formulations of significant historians similar to Reinhart Koselleck and, extra lately, François Hartog. The e-book explores Dada temporalities and ideas of heritage in artistic endeavors, inventive discourse, and within the photos of the Berlin Dada move. those photographs—including the well-known one of many First foreign Dada Fair—are awarded no longer as easy, obvious records, yet as formal deployments conforming to a really concrete thought of historical past. This strategy permits Stavrinaki to hyperlink Dada to extra modern creative hobbies and practices drawn to heritage and the archive. while, she investigates what appears a true oxymoron of the flow: its simultaneous declare to the ephemeral and its compulsive writing of its personal heritage. during this approach, Dada Presentism additionally interrogates the boundaries among historical past and fiction.

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1 They were responding, in 50 A R T ’ S E F F I C A C Y O R D A D A ’ S U S E VA L U E particular, to the controversy that was sparked when an artillery shell hit the Dresden Gemälde Galerie during the fighting between workers and the Kapp putschists, destroying Rubens’s Baccanales painting. The Dadaists defended the principle of political struggle and the unforeseeable damage it might cause over the eternal value of Great Art. They thereby disagreed with both the Expressionist Oskar Kokoscka, who dismissed the two political camps and defended the sacred autonomy of art, and the communist Alexander, who, despite her support for the working class, vigorously urged respect for the works of the past.

II THE PRESENT AS REPRODUCIBLE TIME Not Document but Device The photograph in Figure 8 has been reproduced dozens of times in works on the historical avant-garde movements in general and on Dada in particular. It is the indexical sign of a legendary event of which few traces remain today. 1 But this photograph of the core members of Berlin Dada can also be understood on its own terms—that is, not as the transparent document of a legendary event but as a somewhat more opaque device, a meticulous staging of the formal, rhetorical, and ontological strategies forged by Dadaist subjectivity in its struggle with the temporality of the present.

II THE PRESENT AS REPRODUCIBLE TIME Not Document but Device The photograph in Figure 8 has been reproduced dozens of times in works on the historical avant-garde movements in general and on Dada in particular. It is the indexical sign of a legendary event of which few traces remain today. 1 But this photograph of the core members of Berlin Dada can also be understood on its own terms—that is, not as the transparent document of a legendary event but as a somewhat more opaque device, a meticulous staging of the formal, rhetorical, and ontological strategies forged by Dadaist subjectivity in its struggle with the temporality of the present.

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