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new media & experimental art days

dada manifest


Raoul Schrott

DADA 21/22

Musikalische Fischsuppe mit Reiseeindrücken

Quick info and association material for the medienfrische

Selected and compiled by Andreas Pronegg

Translated with DeepL


The First World War had caused the cultural avant-garde to lose any kind of meaning-giving mechanism. What remained were models whose inscriptions and legends had become illegible, hieroglyphics, individual parts, flotsam and jetsam of a sunken ship. The immediate reaction was a feeling of confusion and “absurdity”. Dada wanted to process this feeling into a creative hallucination and let new objects arise on new ground, but not to replace the old references and orders with new ones.

For us, at that time in Cologne in 1919, DADA was a spiritual statement, an outbreak of a revolt of joie de vivre and rage, with attacks on language, syntax, logic, literature, painting and so on. (Max Ernst)

Dada found nothingness at the bottom, emptiness as an existential premise: When I offer the empty to the empty. (Tristan Tzara)


Epistolary greeting to the Alps along with fountain poisoning through yodelling.

We want to return to nature, now that Tyrol is so beautiful – in the snow, the excrement of the dadaists. It is white and beautiful, this excrement, because we are all angels, the stones confirm it, our illnesses are those of frozen animals. We want to feed on the eyes of massacred fish.


Tyrol as a gathering place of primeval nature, as a possibility to become aware and clear of one’s own position, in an environment of the rough, the vulgar, the primitive, triggered by the contrast and the opposite of the mountains – experience of nature as a link between Dada and surrealism. Nights in shelters and strawberry hunts in the forest. (Jimmy Ernst) the wind blows very hard it is young and the trees pass by its force. (Tzara)

During the two summers in Tyrol, Tzara tries to get behind the mirror of nature. For him, lightning is that force of nature that makes any secure existence seem impossible and absurd. who wouldn’t go mad from the taste of bird shadows?


For André Breton, Tyrol becomes the land where dreams, desire and sexuality are absorbed. It is the habitat of oblivion and bleak; nothing can remain on its surface – even memory is like a swift grey wind chime. What remains is a land of volcanic nature with its subterranean reservoirs pervaded by the smell of sunken flowers and parching fruit. The sky above this land is suggestively empty. Tyrol becomes for him the distillation apparatus of his dreams, coaxing them out of their subterranean chambers – he finds a message under every stone. In contrast to Tzara, poetry for Breton is liberation that can reach a higher reality through the omnipotence of dreams (the first surrealist sleep experiments emerge), the

purposeless play of thought – something Tzara rejected completely. This was a dangerous utopia, beauty had to remain in the impersonal and indifferent.


Language was for Tzara only a fragile, questionable and deflecting construction. As soon as it is uttered, it takes on a hostile life of its own, to which the market and compromise logic of syntax is only conducive – some statement can always be found with it. One would have to be faster than language, as it were, to break off its images where they begin to take hold, to kill off the result before the sentence. The chaos of reality could only be reproduced in a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of language – and then only in gestures. At best, language can only provide a cue for a train of thought, which is then carried out by the recipient; art remains private in its core and fundamentally incommunicable – ideas plough the air like dogs: In the Diamond (Tzara 1919). Tzara’s Tyrol and Camus’ Algeria have given rise to the same existential approach.


For Ernst (according to a later definition), his collage technique with scissors and glue systematically exploits the coincidental or artificially provoked meeting of two or more realities on a plane that is apparently unsuitable for it – and the spark of poetry that jumps when these realities come together. – “Beautiful”, like the chance encounter of a sewing machine with an umbrella on a dissecting table. Dada in Tyrol, on the other hand, did not see this as a goal to be achieved, but as an everyday event that it did not want to systematise, but only to register.


Hans Arp discovered the principle of “falling towards” for himself in Tyrol. With his icon, he crystallised the midpoint between index and symbol, where sign and thing can be equated, where in the sign the characteristic and form of the thing are found again, as in a pictogram.

In his SCHNEETHLEHEM poems, Tarrenz appears as a Dadaist Bethlehem in the snow-covered mountains. Arp received a painted brick as a gift from Ernst in the summer of 1922.


Dada was also an attempt to restore the original unity between nature and innocence. kaspar as the symbol of childlike innocence; rübezahl, the root counter, as the embodiment of the absurd and nihilistic. The naivety on display, the voluntary folly (Hugo Ball), Dada, the virgin microbe (Tzara) – all this indicates that Dada was in search of innocence. Dada is quite an excellent blotter. I believe that one should live in Tyrol like an imbecile and let oneself be knocked over by billiard balls. (Tzara) Come in and see Dada as a bauer. (Ernst)

Innocence has something to do with happiness, the spontaneous moment in which the gap between man and the world seems to be overcome. Melancholy is its negative form, the consciousness afterwards, where the moment of happiness becomes a shadow, the overcoming of the gap is recognised as a deception and leaves behind things that have become lifeless. Melancholy and innocence as two metaphysical vanishing points, two coordinate axes by which Dada is kept in balance.


On the way to escaping the identity principle, a strong individual is needed who can keep the human urge to make sense within bounds and his position on the sidelines without falling into an aesthetic delusion: Art was only something for the nervously less resilient natures and to avoid being bored. The thought happens in the mouth. (Tzara) The plan of a

Dada republic is propagated: If we are powerful enough, we could found our first republic here. (Tzara) The Dadaists hold their congress at the foot of the Tschirgant.


Dada made its own press, launched false newspaper reports of fictitious soirées and alleged duels, had friends write their biographies, and in the TIROL MANIFEST, too, the game with the interchangeability of personalities and the identification with the respective other was continued, and the concept of genius was challenged. DADA au grand air (in the fresh air/outdoors/with a distinguished mien) / DER SÄNGERKRIEG IN TIROL was intended to express the contrast to intellectual Paris: imagination, foolishness, playfulness, light-heartedness.


Characteristic of the first summer in Tyrol were the communal works. The anonymity and interchangeability of authorship were important – dada as a many-membered animal (centipede, fossil, reptile, lizard, the insect in the crystal, etc.) that digested nature in its bowels: the white ink on the white paper was the excrement of the dadaists. Art is like snow: pure, smooth and ephemeral in the sun. The Dadaists discovered a seam in Tyrol where the living mixed with the lifeless and ground in the middle. The centipede as heraldic animal symbolised Dada’s idea of existence as metamorphosis in a world of indifference, the intermediate link between decay and emergence, between the inorganic and the organic. The creative gaze of man, totally covered in ciliated hair, scans the interstice between earth and stone.


Over the years, Dada had stripped away layer after layer of reality, had stumbled upon its innermost, original core in Tyrol, and had crystallised it there. Dada had almost set itself against its own will. It had glimpsed the opening of the mountains in 21-22, then bathed in a blind lake and finally stumbled upon the Blue Flower.

In Ernst’s painting RENDEZ-VOUS DER FREUNDE (RENDEZ-VOUS OF FRIENDS) from December 1922, against the background of the repainted Tarrenz mountains, he demonstrates how Tyrol had become the watershed between Dada and Surrealism.


Dada was a circling around a hidden point sublime, the order of the universe could only be glimpsed in fleeting patterns that became imaginable through the process of creativity. They emerged from the inorganic conditions of the mountains, from the landscape, and from the collaboration of the Dadaists among themselves. Dada’s prototype was the exile, the adventurer, the refractory who refused to be cornered. Tirol brought to light an awareness and evaluation of one’s own attitude, and in this a confrontation with the existential conditions themselves. Dada deconstructed one concept after another, criticised the human building genius that had forgotten the flow of reality beneath it and the illusion of truth. It dived down into the river below, curious to see what it would find; and Tirol was in this sense a rock in the current and a touchstone.

The trial needles of the Dadaists in Tyrol – and the nothingness that materialised in the landscape.


Dada was not concerned with the analogies of isms, but with an existential justification that would turn “attitude” into behaviour.

There is something innocent, unmeditated about the variety of forms and ideas that Dada brought to the table. Dada in Tyrol had become a model. With it, the stocktaking of the world was complete; one could now move on to formalisation. From this point, one could only dissolve the world into poetic effects – or start the circle all over again. “Franz Müller” (who enters Kurt Schwitter’s text in response to the question: “Who is the zero?) determines this restart; he is Dada come of age. Like the fool who is assigned the number zero on the tarot cards, like the joker who can be everything and nothing, like the fool whose soul hovers between heaven and earth, he stands at the beginning and the end of Dada.

DISSECTED QUOTES (DeepL translated)

single number multiplicity rübezahl

monogram of stars

56 stages of weathering from fresh stone

dada – a softness artificially laid over things, a snow of butterflies.

cloud fish on plants. the grass of rain eyes. who calls me it is you yes it is me it is you yes it is you.

Man hunts his prey in the skies, and the fruits dry on the drying racks of pink paper in the shade of names that have become immoderate in oblivion.

We want to form, as the plant forms its fruit, and not to depict. Dada is a rose that wears a rose in its buttonhole.

It is a pleasure to live, but we don’t give a damn.

Laziness is a branch of Dada.




and the brain remained as the heart of the lake that nobody eats nobody kisses nobody believes nobody judges nobody steals nobody drinks nobody dissects.

Today I know that love is a collar of words that the timid heat of sleep has joined.

At noon the clocks are set to midnight. The first prophet appears and clutters a hundred light years. At the prophet’s appearance, the people embrace, weep and extinguish street lamps.

So much for today, but since it is already tomorrow, I will continue immediately.

The one-time sadist is stark naked and rubbed with phosphorus, which looks decorative and macabre. His eyes, as well as his long female hair, are white as curried air. His face is haughty and ruthless like all truly great stylised and patented sadists who are entitled to a state pension.

With the shriek of joy of a Tyrolean window-tumbler dancing round a lake of lubricating oil, he pounces on the accumulated objects and throws them out of the majestic window of the noble works. His life consists of throwing everything that exists out the window. Whole and living elephants, he hurls them out the window. Quack, quack, quack, plead the brave but horrified elephants. The one-time sadist, who de-thrashes everything, does not stop in his adorable elan.

He screams, he gnashes his teeth. The Tyrolean elephant and the rubber grandmother strike the piano of death.

A country without equal: Decor, decor, all just decor.

this delicate and moving writing of the body

a beautiful dance for loneliness when the tongue sticks to the palate

with the moon it has come to a bad end

how many languages does the flower speak?

do you know the seagulls who are inflamed by their flight


lie down

cover themselves



and demand neither reason nor the opening of the summer season?

the mystery is illuminated

this here is an unhappy landscape

a bastard abandoned in the manger of the evening

Andreas Pronegg,

Vienna, 5.1.2022