Background for Celebration of Dada and Surrealism


It's 1918.

You're young and living in Berlin. You're a little dazed to have survived the mass-slaughter of World War I which proved such a shock for Europe and the world. You feel sorrow and anger that so many of your friends and family were killed, mutilated, driven mad.  This was the first mechanized war with weapons of mass slaughter, the first with a new mental damage called “shell shock."

Like your surviving friends, you have only contempt for your “civilization” and its masters whom you hold responsible for your culture's rapid slide into barbarism, suffering and death. You blame and condemn the structures of your culture: the state, the church, the press, capitalism, the academies, the arts ... you ridicule them all.

Your friends are pacifists, artists, communists, anarchists, all shades of ists; but you have gone beyond them to question the very notion of reason itself.  Because you have no idea why the war was ever fought. For what?

You uneasily recognize the great fearful and violent unconscious of humanity has surfaced during what was claimed as the height of civilization and learning; and that it has caught everyone including yourself completely unawares. You uneasily recognize that visions of mass-annihilation have entered the European imagination. You sense even worse atrocities to come.

You gather with friends at clubs and begin to write and perform satires, poems, manifestos and attacks but writing them in violation of all the rules. You print up art and writings on cheap paper for mass distribution. You develop an anti-art, anti-rules, anti-logic anti-reason, anti-structure approach to artistic creation, calling it Dada; scraping away surface consciousness to uncover and probe what lies beneath.  A basis for a true art of the people you wonder?

And then you notice as your Dada festivities progress, that you all become a little more than just giddy. It all begins to develop some purpose ... generating explorations of altered states of consciousness through art and sound. Your friends talk of achieving the “marvelous” and “fields of light;” they would almost sound mystical if you weren't all so dead set against religion.

But you are also excited about a rumor you have recently heard: that the revolutionary creators of Dada's birthplace, Zurich's Cabaret Voltaire, are opening a new Berlin club with a marathon lasting for the final 101 hours of August in one continuous performance to be broadcast live on the radio.

And what is amazing: they claim their new invention called the DADASCOPE can perforate the membrane of time and create a gigantic DADASPHINCTER which allows for aural interpenetration all the way up into the next century in the year 2008.

The Dadas assert that through electrical stimulation of the DADASPHINCTER they can dilate its opening to extract interviews and performances of future Dadas and what will come to be called Surrealists who will embrace the concepts established at Cabaret Voltaire to develop and advance them here and in other similar venues throughout Europe and, eventually, the rest of the world.

Imagine: The Marvelous!!!


WED., AUG. 27 7P -- SUN., AUG. 31 -- MIDNIGHT


FROM THE PRODUCER: Despite, or because of all of the mayhem and strangeness, much of this material pushes us into experiences which might easily be described as mystical or ecstatic. And it is in that spirit that I have viewed the construction of this festival much like that of one of those grand old cathedrals of Europe where all of the creators remain nameless. Only in the case of this edifice, all participants have a chance to carve their name, spray paint “Kilroy was here,” or remain nameless and leave behind just their work alone. As I write this there are 70 people signed up to our website as primary producers, participants, and observers and many of them represent even more people involved in their many projects. This brochure contains only the names of those whose projects run 20 minutes or longer. To thank everyone of importance would be to fill this brochure with nothing but names. So in not listing the names of any individuals, I too will remain nameless here as producer.

But there are no words to express my overwhelming joy and my gratitude to all of the people involved who are freely giving up their time, energy and creativity to bring my idea of celebrating Dada and Surrealism in a festival on radio to life once again, as so many did in 2001. It is genuinely a revolutionary, anti-corporate, people’s art and it could happen only with people like these on a non-corporate community radio station like ours. My thanks to the station, its board and staff and so many foundation members and volunteers, as well as to Portland Community Media Channels 11 and 23 and Movie Madness, who make all of this possible in one giant collective and extended orgasm.