The Dada Family (°1916, Berlin, Germany) consists of Mama Dada, Papa Dada, Nana Dada, and The Übermarionette. They independently create performances, photos, media art, and films. By rejecting an objective truth and global cultural narratives, this family creates work through labour-intensive processes that can be seen explicitly as a personal exorcism ritual. They are inspired by a nineteenth-century tradition of works, in which an ideal of ‘Fulfilled Absence’ was seen as the pinnacle. For several years, they have been working toward a communal piece of art, a German Expressionist film entitled PASSION KILLING. This work is their research.
Their performances demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits, and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. They challenge the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, they employ quotidian, recognizable elements to create an unprecedented situation in which viewers are confronted with the conditioning of their own perception and have to reconsider their biased positions.
Saturated with obviousness, mental inertia, clichés, and bad jokes, they question the coerciveness that is derived from the more profound meaning and the superficial aesthetic appearance of an image. By referencing romanticism, Grand-Guignol-esque black humour, and symbolism, their works reference post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.
The Dada Family’s works urge us to renegotiate performance as being part of a reactive or – at times – autistic medium, commenting on oppressing themes in our contemporary society. By parodying mass media through the exaggeration of certain formal aspects inherent to our contemporary society, they make works that can be seen as self-portraits. Sometimes, they appear idiosyncratic and quirky; at other times, they seem typical by-products of American superabundance and marketing.
The works are often classified as part of the new romantic movement because of the desire for the local in the unfolding globalized world. However, this reference is not intentional, as this kind of art is part of the collective memory. This is a project by Canadian Artist Lisa Anita Wegner. The Dada Family are currently artists in residence at Haus of Dada Toronto.
Artist Statement issued by Haus of Dada by 500 Letters