Dada Divas unearths, reanimates, and celebrates the stories, legacy, and creative work of the Dada movement’s female pioneers: Mina Loy, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Emmy Hennings, and others. Overshadowed historically by their male counterparts, these women are illuminated through a modern scholar’s (re)discovery of mementos and artifacts from their lives and works, and her subsequent campaign to regain their acclaim. Dada Divas invokes the concept of archives to (re)collect artistic works, auto/biographies, and issues important to these Dada instigators, weaving together art and biography through vignettes based on themes, life events, and artistic exploits important to these artists while commenting on the status of women, émigré life, drug addiction, war, and other concerns that are as pressing today as they were when Dada erupted a century ago.
Dada Divas’ major aspects are based on its protagonists’ lives, works, and movements in which they were involved. Every vignette illustrates aspects of Dada, Futurism, and the creative processes that these women used in their own work, refreshed by aspects of today’s musical palette. Both Dada and Futurism spouted anti-Art rhetoric; both flouted traditions and rules. Among ideas from Dada are collage/montage, juxtaposition, non-linearity, found objects/ready-mades, simultaneity, indeterminacy, sound poetry, parody, and the fusion of “high” and “low” art. Among Futurist characteristics are noise (bruitism), dynamism, simultaneity, synthetic theater, parole in libertà, “assaulting” the audience, and exulting in technology. Dada Divas draws upon period traditions of cabaret, variety show, and opera/operetta, linking these to contemporary culture through such recent practices as noise, sound art, experimental music, extended vocal techniques, and performance art. Dada Divas also reflects a process of discovery, since one of its characters is a modern scholar who opens and rummages through boxes—alluding to archival collections in libraries, or forgotten paraphernalia in dusty attics—and examines the paradoxical relationship between the ephemerality of performance and society’s tendency to record and itemize cultural artifacts, as well as the irony of anthologizing an artistic movement that sought to abolish such consecration.
Various preliminary versions of Dada Divas have been performed in Brno and Olomouc, Czech Republic, on the New Music Encounters + Festival (November 2015); Monterrey, Mexico, on the XIII Festival Internacional Música Nueva (September 2016); San Francisco at the Dada World Fair (November 2016); Mexico City on the Festival Vértice (October 2018); and various brief presentations such as at Automata in Los Angeles and the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. The research component of Dada Divas will be presented in lectures and publications, and in 2015–2016 formed the basis of a course at the California Institute of the Arts.
Dada Divas in the news
read about Dada Divas at the Dada World Fair in San Francisco on CalArts' blog 24700
read about Dada Divas in this story from
the Modern Literature & Culture Research Centre at Ryerson University in Toronto