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Richard Huelsenbeck, "Dada Manifesto" (1918)

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dadaistisCHes maniFest

Art, in its production and direction, depends on the time in which it lives, and artists are creatures of their epoch. The highest art will be one in which the thousandfold issues of the day are revealed in its consciousness, an art which allows itself to be noticeably shattered by last week’s explosions, which is forever trying to collect itself after the shock of recent days. The best and most challenging artists will be those who every hour snatch the tatters of their bodies out of the turbulent whirl of life, who, with bleeding hands and hearts, hold fast to the intelligence of their time.

Has Expressionism fulfilled our expectations of such an art, which should be a measure of our most vital concerns?

No! No! No!

Have the Expressionists fulfilled our expectations of an art that burns the essence of life into our flesh?

No! No! No!

Under the pretext of turning inward, the Expressionists in literature and painting have banded together into a generation which even now is longingly expecting its historical validation and is campaigning for honorable bourgeois recognition. On the pretext of cultivating souls, they have, in their opposition to naturalism, found their way back to the abstract, emotional gestures which presuppose a comfortable life free from content or motivation. The stages are full of kings, poets, and all sorts of Faustian types; the theory of a melioristic world-philosophy, whose child-like, psychologically naive manner remains significant for a full critical understanding of Expressionism, haunts idle heads. A hatred of the press, hatred of advertising, hatred of sensations bespeaks people for whom an armchair is more important than the noise of the street, and who even make being swindled by every small-time profiteer into a virtue. That sentimental resistance to the times, which are neither better nor worse, neither more reactionary nor more revolutionary than any other times, that feeble opposition, which sidles up to prayers and incense when it does not prefer to make paper cannons out of Attic iambics—these are traits of a youth who never knew how to be young. Expressionism, discovered abroad and—true to style—transformed in Germany into a fat idler with hope of a good pension, has nothing in common with the efforts of active men. The signers of this manifesto have, under the battle cry


assembled together to put forward a new art, from which they expect the realization of new ideals. What then is DADAISM?

The word Dada symbolizes the most primitive relation to the surrounding reality; with Dadaism a new reality comes into its own. Life appears as a simultaneous whirl of noises, colors, and spiritual rhythms, which Dada takes unflinchingly into its art, with all the spectacular screams and fevers of its feisty pragmatic attitude and with all its brutal reality. This is the sharp dividing line separating Dadaism from all artistic directions up until now and particularly from FUTURISM, which not long ago certain weak minds took to be a new version of impressionist realization. By tearing to pieces all the platitudes of ethics, culture, and inwardness, which are merely cloaks for weak muscles, Dadaism has for the first time ceased to take an aesthetic position toward life.

the BRUITIST poem

represents a streetcar as it is, the essence of the streetcar with the pensioner Schulze yawning and the brakes screeching.


teaches a sense of all things in mad, chaotic pursuit of one another; while Herr Schulze is reading, the Balkan Express crosses the bridge at Nish, a pig squeals in Butcher Nuttke’s cellar.

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