Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Describe Dada here.

You don't deserve to have Dada described here. Instead, you will get a treatise on the nature of sock lint.

Why, you ask? Sock lint has inherently merfunculent properties that highly illustrate the exact nature of this world. There's a reason it ends up in our belly buttons, after all.

What, you say? It doesn't end up in our belly buttons, but rather shirt lint does? Shirley, you jest. And yes, you are now called Shirley. Perhaps you fail to understand the teleportational properties of sock lint -- The Tick did at first, until it was later illustrated to him...

Okay, that was rather pointless, and may have even served to tick people off. That's kind of the point.

Dada itself started in the middle of World War I. The belief of its practitioners was that World War I was such a brutal and devastating war with absolutely no point (not that the world didn't have its pointless wars before, but World War I was on a much greater scale of devastation and pointlessness than most of the previous examples), such an ugly world didn't deserve art. So, in response, the practitioners of Dada gave the world anti-art.

For some time, its practitioners managed to shock the living daylights out of the world, with installations like Tristan Tzara's rendition of fellow Dadaist Hugo Ball's poem "Gadji beri bimba" (made of complete nonsense words)[1] while painted to look like a grotesque statue, signing a urinal and putting it in an art installation, and the painting "LHOOQ",[2] the famous picture of the Mona Lisa with a moustache and goatee (now often a Stock Parody).

Dada eventually died out as a major movement for a few reasons. First and foremost, people started to like it—completely the opposite effect that Dada was shooting for. For another, its inherently nihilistic outlook wore on some of its practitioners, and they went in different artistic directions (most famously, into Surrealism, which was often just as confusing to people but with more point). Finally, as bad as World War I ended up, It Got Worse. If anything, one could look at some of the worst parts of World War II and see the end result of Dada—utter brutality and disgust for a world that doesn't deserve art. (Or in layman's terms, Dada caused the Holocaust.[3])

Dada still has a small but thriving following to this day—anything indulging in Refuge in Audacity will certainly take at least a quick look at it for inspiration, and more than one Dead Baby Comedy has been noted as falling squarely into the Dada tradition.

Obviously, the Trope Namer for Dada Horror, Dada Comics (which are really much closer to "surrealist comics"), and Dada Ad (which sometimes do inadvertently wander into the Dada tradition).

Compare and contrast Post Modernism, 'Pataphysics.

Examples of Dada include:
  • Becoming the Mask: After they started to receive some public acclaim for their work, some began to lose sight of their original anti-art purpose, took their work far more seriously, and invoked True Art Is Incomprehensible in a more earnest way; eventually turning to Surrealism and similar movements.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Some works just went with massive swearing to shock the crowd (merde was a popular choice, for example in Ubu Roi). Some maintain the level of shock, others are prone to...
  • Curse of the Ancients: By today's standards, the shocking language used in Dada art is rather tame. Any fan of Game Grumps, The Nostalgia Critic, or the like can attest to this.
  • Deconstruction: Of popular art of the era.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: For the most part, it was all about laughing at the audience.
  • Hypocritical Humor: You know, the artists themselves didn't quite deserve the entertainment they got out of it, either.
  • It Got Worse: Dada was continually trying to escalate the shock.
  • Mind Screw / The Walrus Was Paul
  • Refuge in Audacity: Given how often installations resulted in police intervention, it wasn't much refuge.
  • Spiritual Successor: Surrealism—much of the off-the-wall imagery and doings of Dada, but with an actual pro-artistic purpose. Now, if more than a few individuals actually understood it...
  • Stealth Pun: Elle a chaud au cul.
  • Stock Parody: "LHOOQ" is itself a stock parody of Mona Lisa Smile; also, The Treachery of Images is often parodied (see the page for several examples).
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Dadaism and its contemporary styles gave rise to this attitude; also, this was among the reasons the movement died out -- "true" Dada is anti-art, and people were too often treating Dadaism as an art form, defeating the purpose of the style.
  • Word Salad Title: Legend has it that they chose the name "Dada" by sticking a knife in a dictionary and choosing the word it pointed to. It means "hobby horse."
    • Another theory is that it was chosen to sound like a baby dribbling gibberish.
    • It also means "yes, yes!" in Roumanian, Russian, Serbian, and (sometimes) German.
    • And then there's the fact that one of them claimed that it was an African language for "the tail of the sacred cow."
  1. This poem was later set to music by Talking Heads, as "I Zimbra"
  2. reading the letters with the French pronunciation results in "elle a chaud au cul", i.e. "her ass is hot", which is French slang for "she's horny"
  3. How's that for shock value?