Dada Afrika

African art's influence on Dada

Words By Alison Rhoades

Date: 04/08/16 –  07/11/2016
Venue: Berlinische Galerie
Time: Wed – Mon 10.00-18.00 (closed Tuesdays)

If you’ve never made your way to the Berlinische Gallerie, it’s really time to go. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Kreuzberg, the museum continually showcases innovative and extraordinary artists and exhibitions, and this one is no exception. Dada Afrika, an exhibition first shown in Zurich, was produced in honor of the 100 year anniversary of Dada, and seeks to examine the influence of African art on the Dadaists’ work.  Rocked by the horror of the first world war, the Dadaists were moved to identify with non-western art as a means of disassociating themselves with a society they had come to loathe.

What could be seen as naive fetishization of African art in the Dadaists’ work reads rather as a channeling of the spirit of non-western cultures as a way of breaking with the rigid confines of European art. Hannah Höche’s collages assemble stunning cyborg-like figures constructed from cut-outs of Greek statues and African masks are coupled with colorful warrior or fertility sculptures by unknown artists. Archival sound, photos, and video successfully situate the viewer in this complex and fascinating era. The exhibition in itself, particularly through the provocative title, seeks to confront issues of representation and ethnic and cultural identity, with the aim of embracing each “Other” as a source of inspiration.

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