Today marks the beginning of one of the weirdest holidays you'll ever hear of: International Dadaism Month.
The declaration was made on December 27, 2005 in Lawrence, Kansas by then Mayor Dennis Highberger. In true Dada fashion, International Dadaism Month isn't a specific calendar month but instead a series of dates, chosen at random by rolling dice and pulling numbers out of a hat. This process resulted in the following days of celebration: February 4, March 28, April 1, July 15, August 2, August 7, August 16, August 26, September 18, September 22, October 1, October 17, and October 26.
Think this is absurd? Well, that's part of the point.
Dada was an international cultural movement which peaked from 1916-1922 and embraced chance and nonsense. Seen as a reaction to the horrors of World War I, the anarchic movement rejected artistic conventions. Dada artists sought to provoke and challenge. Although short-lived, Dada has been a hugely influential movement to visual art, writing and performance art.
Share your favorite Dada art below in the comments. Or you could just randomly hit keys on your keyboard. It's all good.
Hugo Ball reading the poem "Karawane," 1916. Hugo Ball co-founded Cabaret Voltaire, the birthplace of Dada in Zurich in 1916. In this photograph Ball is reciting "Karawane," one of his "sound poems." The entire text of the poem is below. For the record, Ball is German. But don't worry, even if you are fluent in German, it still won't make any sense. "Karawane" jolifanto bambla ô falli bambla großiga m'pfa habla horem égiga goramen higo bloiko russula huju hollaka hollala anlogo bung blago bung blago bung bosso fataka ü üü ü schampa wulla wussa ólobo hej tatta gôrem eschige zunbada wulubu ssubudu uluwu ssubudu tumba ba-umf kusa gauma ba - umf
Hans Arp, Collage with Squares Arranged According to the Laws of Chance, 1916-1917. One of the founding members of Dada in Zurich, Arp was a painter, poet and sculptor. Here Arp created a collage by dropping torn pieces of paper onto a piece of paper and pasted them where they landed. Arp left the artistic process and resulting composition up to chance.
Marchel Duchamp, L.H.O.O.Q., 1919. You think Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons are bad? They have nothing on Marcel Duchamp, forever known to art history students as the guy that called a urinal a work of art. Both the urinal, Fountain and L.H.O.O.Q. are "readymades:" objects chosen by an artist and called art. In 1919, Duchamp doodled a mustache on a postcard reproduction of Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Duchamp inscribed "L.H.O.O.Q.," pronounced "Elle a chaud au cul", a French pun which translates "She has a hot ass."
Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven didn't just practice performance art, she lived it. She was an eccentric flâneuse (the female version of the Charles Baudelaire's flâneur, "a person who walks the city in order to experience it"). Known for her bizarre attire which included a taillight as a bustle and a bra made of tomato cans, she would go for walks in Washington Square Park in New York City. It might take a lot to shock New Yorkers, but we have no doubt the Baroness succeeded.
Man Ray, Rayograph, 1923. Man Ray, born Emmanuel Radnitzky, was a painter, photographer and sculptor. Beginning in 1922, Man Ray created a series of works called "rayographs." A play on his name, the photograms were made without a camera and instead created them by placing objects directly onto photosensitive paper. Tristan Tzara, a Dadaist poet, declared they were "pure Dada creations." Although the images were created with everyday objects, the result of the process is otherworldly.
Francis Picabia, Here, This Is Stieglitz Here, 1915. Part of the New York Dada movement, Picabia's mechanomorphic drawings utilized technical drawings to convey the human condition. Here photographer Alfred Stieglitz is represented as a broken camera with an automobile brake. Picabia was also a poet, famous for the phrase "I am a beautiful monster," a line from the poem "Baccarat." Lady Gaga would approve.