Movement Language: Dada & Imperialism & Decolonization!?

I’ve embedded an entire video above, that is great if your into this stuff, if not speed ahead to 8:05 or click the link below. This stuff being dada and surrealism. It explains how surrealism, for Tristan Tzara, one of the dada creators that moved on to surrealism, is dadaism with a political purpose, less individualized, more goal oriented… basically, it is dada with an ideology. And that ideology, the one that sort of skeeved my favorite poet Robert Desnos , was marxism. What I found extremely interesting though is that dada was not without a theory or political purpose. In fact, they say as much at this specific point, that OMG it’s changed my life and everyone should hear the words that come out of their mouths:

I was always taught that dadaism was a reaction to the war, but without skipping a beat, they say it was a reaction to the wars (meaning the great war, and a war that was going on in Morocco was explicitly mentioned in the interview) AND the imperial regime. I feel like this is something that is lost to history. So I guess I might be down the rabbit whole for the next few days to see if anyone wrote explicitly on dada’s dadaism (dadaism is when it stops being practice and moves to theories per the people in the video etc etc), towards an anti-imperial politics.

I find that I’m coming up against this a lot with theorist, movements, etc. from the past 100 years that were doing anything that had to do with pushing against the marginal boundaries. Fanon, Hurston, and now possibly dada, did not have the language to say that they were engaging in something that we might now call decolonization. It is more than post-colonization, it is a complete letting go of all the colonial notions, and imagining creating something new using the mechanical limitations (and language is a mechanical limitation I think) of the time. The other thing I love about the three is they realize that this isn’t a project that is just for the group I’m in but is for everyone. If Zora is writing about decolonization from an american (exposed to diaspora) perspective, Fanon from a French (experienced diaspora) one, and the dadaist are creating from a hodgepodge European centered in Zurich/Pairs but from all over Europe… I think that the way their practice came out is worth noting.

And I think I’ve decided too that if I am going to allow for a language to not exist yet, I can show how even though women are not a large part of the conversations of say Fanon or Dada, their role was still central in a really, really interesting way. That I’m not going to write about here because it should probably just go in my diss.

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