During these years, Europe was moving closer and closer to what seemed to be an inevitable war. All sides were making massive stockpiles of armaments. The artists wanted nothing to do with it and converged on Zurich which was a neutral zone, free from the threat of war.
In 1916 there was a meeting of artists at Hugo Ball's Cabaret Voltaire.
A paper knife inserted into a French-German dictionary pointed to the word 'dada' (hobby horse), this word was seized upon by the group as appropriate for their anti-aesthetic creations and protest activities, which were engendered by disgust for bourgeois values and despair over World War I. This as close as we'll ever get to the origin of the Dada Movement.
At the Cabaret Voltaire, Ball intended to create an "International Cabaret" to use the arts to build bridges where war would destroy them. This group published several periodicals including one called simply "Dada". At the cabaret, they presented a wild variety of early performance art which included bizarre costumes and simultaneous poems during which multiple performers would say the same poem in different languages.
Motherwell, Robert, "The Dada Painters and Poets: An Anthology", Harvard University Press, 1951
Rubin, William S., "Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage", Museum of Modern Art, NY, 1968.
Last Updated 05.09.04