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Dada 1916 in TheoryPractices of Critical Resistance$
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Dafydd Jones

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380208

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380208.001.0001

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Becoming the Dada Body: Masks, Dance and Mime

Becoming the Dada Body: Masks, Dance and Mime

(p.41) 2 Becoming the Dada Body: Masks, Dance and Mime
Dada 1916 in Theory

Dafydd W. Jones

Liverpool University Press

The performative aspects of Zurich Dada (without which the inaugural formation would surely have passed unnoticed in the middle of the First World War) constitute the central interest of chapter 2 – the body, masks, puppets, dance, starting with what can be described from the few visual renderings that we have of the Cabaret Voltaire. With the masked face that dominates Marcel Janco’s painting Cabaret Voltaire, the philosophical work of Emmanuel Levinas is introduced in discussion of the face and its masking in relation to theoretical readings of otherness. The performative dimension of Dada activities allows deliberation of a philosophical fundament for the centrality of the body and of its surmounting face in cabaret fare – debated through Schopenhauer on will, with detours to more recent instances in the YBAs or in American Psycho. The masks of Marcel Janco, the contorting body of Emmy Hennings and the Dada dancers all deposit cultural leads that are here given contemporary continuity in their recontextualisation.

Keywords:   Marcel Janco, masks, face, Emmanuel Levinas, Arthur Schopenhauer, Emmy Hennings, body, puppets, dance, Mary Wigman, Rudolf von Laban, performance

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