An Interview with Matt Bennett by Betsy Keefe

Duchamp-Fountain-1917
Marcel Duchamp- Fountain, readymade (1917)
Shi Xinning: Duchamp Retrospective (2000-2001)

February 15, 2016

Matt Bennett is the Associate Editor of MetaData and WordPress Tzara for the journal’s web presence. In this role is also active in the organization of the upcoming Dada Lives! exhibition at UC Blue Ash Art Gallery. His background is in art history and contemporary media, with a special interest in Asian art, film studies, and psychoanalytic theory. Matt is currently Assistant Professor of Electronic Media at University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College (UCBA).

ArpHans-Shirt_Front_and_Fork-1922
Hans Arp- Shirt Front and Fork, painted wood (1922)

BK:       How did you become involved in the development of the Dada Lives! exhibition and creation of the new publication, MetaDada: The International Journal of Dada Mining?

MB:     I wasn’t involved in the inception of the ideas for these two related projects, but I had helped Mike [H. Michael Sanders] with the Tao of Photography exhibit at the UCBA Gallery. He asked if I’d help with the curatorial process, but mainly with the exhibition catalogue and his new journal, MetaDada. While there is some overlap of contents between the exhibition and the first issue of MetaDada, there are additional items planned for MetaDada that will not be in the exhibit and vice versa.

BK:       Were you always a Dada fan?

MB:     With a background in art history, I do have an interest in Dada. My particular interests are in the manifestoes and the premier artists, who are in my view, Hans Arp and Marcel Duchamp.

BK:       How do you interpret Dada thought and art?

MB:     Dada is a reaction against the widespread belief in the rationality of the world, which Dada artists saw as somewhat disingenuous against the backdrop of WW I and the frightening new levels of carnage unleashed upon ourselves. Rationality and historical progress didn’t describe the reality of the time, as in revisionist history.

BK:       The scope of this project is wide, and no doubt widening. What was your role in this process at the outset, and how has that evolved?

MB:     Professor Sanders asked me to be Associate Editor for the MetaDada, which has grown to include managing the WordPress site for the journal, involving both my technical and editorial writing skills. I’d worked with WordPress for my own blog and class assignments, and familiarity with WordPress makes it easy to manage and make materials available through social media versus the print Journal, which needs a lot of work to achieve Professor Sander’s vision of the issue a work of art in it’s own right. Roles are further evolving as the exhibit is now beginning to take shape.

BK:       What aspects of the project have been particularly challenging, beyond your many other gallery experiences.

MB:     Managing time is now challenging, as there’s a lot going on, including the personal challenges that often compete for attention with work on the journal and the exhibition itself. Promoting the projects is heavy responsibility right now, as is getting materials out in a timely manner. It’s all challenging, but well worth it.

BK:       What have you learned during this multi-faceted project?

MB:     I’m continuing to learn each day. I’ve helped with past exhibits, but every one is different, with these parameters different from those in the past. This project is also more sprawling: the WordPress site; the print journal/catalog; I’m starting to hear about live performances and a video program for UCTV… [sighs] so it’s more complex than past projects. I guess small projects prepare us for the larger ones. I am pleased to be part of an event celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Dada movement, and am excited that UCBA is stepping up to give Cincinnati a piece of the worldwide celebration.

ArpHans-Etoile_(Star)-1939
Hans Arp- Etoile (Star), plaster (1939)
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