How can one expect to put order into the chaos that constitutes that infinite and shapeless variation: man?
– Tristan Tzara, “Dada Manifesto 1918” (1918)
Why are we Dada? The very question itself is an oxymoron. Hence we are compelled to ask. The answer to this tenuous question is physically embedded in the web of neurons firing perceptions and impressions at the active screen of our mind; a screen that can’t help but intertwine sensory input with memory and fantasy and dream. We force these wiggling shapes into a flexible mold of reason; a matrix of liquid intent. Imposing our rational mental structures on the world is our illness with some undiscovered bacterial origin or viral mutation. We randomly swivel our heads and ask, “Why?” Rarely, if ever, do we fully recognize what we are doing. We dance the dance of reason, we shovel the muck of progress, we roll rocks endlessly up steep hills of rhetoric. We ask, “why?”
Thought is made in the mouth.
– Tristan Tzara, “Dada Manifesto on Feeble and Bitter Love” (1920)
H. Michael Sanders and William Boyle. Why?, single-channel video, 4:30 (2009)
I know you’re expecting some explanations about Dada. I’m not going to give you any. Explain to me why you exist. You’ve no idea… You’ll never know why you exist, but you’ll always allow yourselves to be easily persuaded to take life seriously.
– Tristan Tzara, “Lecture on Dada” (1922)