‘Theatres of Exchange’ – a partnership between Royal Holloway University and Tate Modern – gave us the opportunity to showcase and develop our project in the Switch Building on 13 February 2017.
Sonia’s specially-written soundtrack ‘Time Passing in Dada-Land’ welcomed participants and set an atmosphere of possibility that proved to be infectious. In an interactive presentation we sought to convey the pioneering interventions of Emmy Hennings and Sophie Taeuber in Zurich and Hannah Höch in Berlin.
Hennings was the inspiration for original visual and musical works brought to us by Vaia and Sonia. A digital animation produced and introduced by Vaia was overlaid with a score by Sonia – a perfect example of creative collaboration. Having brought both her clarinet and her voice, Sonia also performed an aria inspired by Hennings’ poems.
School and university students, families, and our invited visitors from Certitude were asked to get creative. In homage to Hannah Höch, some of our new Dada devotees cut and pasted visual fragments to create collages. Other initiates followed Tristan Tzara’s instruction ‘How to make a Dada poem,’ cutting out words from newspaper articles, shaking them in a bag, and rearranging with as much randomness as could be mustered.
Andy Kee, our incredible artist friend, was a kind of living Dada effigy. He dressed and proclaimed Dada, and made sure that passing members of the public joined in. The energy was crackling. We were overwhelmed by the willingness of our Dada artists to show their work to the room and to read their chance poster-poems aloud in mini impromptu performances reminiscent of the Cabaret Voltaire one hundred years earlier.
By the end we were able to display pin boards covered in new verbal-visual artworks. Meantime the tables and floor were appropriately littered with the detritus of spontaneous production. Some of our visitors from Certitude had never visited Tate Modern before. A number of our undergraduate and postgraduate students said it was a return to the kind of unrestricted creativity they had last practised in childhood. And the children were still steeped in that liberty-fuelled zone in any case, reminding us of its immense potential.
For more images, see our Gallery page.