100th Anniversary of Dadaism

Exhibitions and events supported by the Swiss, French and German embassies in Tokyo

June 13th, 2016

The 100th Anniversary of Dada Zurich, the origin of contemporary art founded by Tristan Tzara, is to be celebrated with several exhibitions and events across several cultural institutions and art spaces in Tokyo this July.

There will be a special exhibition at Aizu Museum, Waseda University, exhibiting original documents from the Dada Movement in Zurich and Paris, such as Revue Dada (Zurich), Dadaphone (Paris), Tzara’s Poetry Book De mémoire d’homme with nine lithography’s signed most notably by Picasso.

Under the patronage of the embassies of France, Switzerland and Germany, the festival will exhibit the history and influence of Dadaism and highlight Japan’s contribution to Dadaism. Such as ‘Mavo’, founded in 1923, a Dada group made up of Japanese artists Tomoyoshi Murayama, Masamu Yanase, amongst others.

Dadaism made its debut after World War I, starting in Zurich and enjoying a worldwide influence by the 1920s. Dadaism challenged the norms and values of that time, incorporating a wide range of art styles, and was innovative, provocative, and hypermodern.

The movement also reached Japan, where it became widely popular even though it was a movement born from a completely different cultural background. Why it was received so well in Japan can potentially be explained by the following reasons: first, Japan at the time had a very strict militaristic and nationalistic society in which censorship was common, similar to Europe following the First World War. Second, Dadaism has surprising similarities to Zen Buddhism, one of the most widely practised religions in Japan. Both in Dadaism and Zen Buddhism, the radical questioning of traditional norms and values is central to their cause.

The festival will be a melting pot of different cultures and nationalities who have all contributed to the same artistic movement, showing how art can be a form of cultural diplomacy. There will be live performances, workshops and poetry readings by artists from a range of countries, such as the Samsonite Orchestra and Jacques Demierre from Switzerland.


Cultural Diplomacy News
Dominique Schmutzer, CD News