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Davis, California

Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Dada Cabaret hits downtown Davis on Saturday

Dada art is difficult to explain, but easier to experience first-hand. It’s not surprising then that the word Dada is essentially a nonsense word, chosen at random to represent a radical, passionate, anti-art movement.

The Dada Cabaret art festival will take place on Saturday from 3 to 10 p.m. The event, directed by theater and dance MFA candidate Hope Mirlis will be broken up into two sections – an afternoon walking tour and scavenger hunt at various locations downtown and an evening cabaret performance at what the official website says will be a “secret” location on campus beginning at 8 p.m.

The Dada art movement began during World War I in Switzerland, falling in between the Futurist and the Surrealist movements.

“It ran from 1916 until about 1921 when most of the Dadaists either left the movement or became surrealists,” Mirlis said. “They were really trying to take what art meant in the world and try to change it around a little bit.”

Dada art can take the form of most anything as long as it keeps with the spirit of the movement. This can include new types of poetry, photo montages, music, dancing, singing or taking an already made or existing item and turning it into something new. Famous Dadaist Marcel Duchamp’s work followed this path with his inverted urinal turned fountain and his altered Mona Lisa complete with both mustache and goatee.

“It’s not the most well-understood art movement because it’s such an anti-art movement. It can be anything,” said organizer Sarah Kendrick, a theater design graduate student.

There will be four main locations downtown for this event, which features performance and gallery exhibits: The train station plaza at 2nd and H streets, Mansion Square at 2nd and E streets, Davis Commons at 1st and E and the Pence Gallery at 2nd and D.

In addition to exhibits and performances – including a man who carves skateboards, the Linda Bair Dance Company’s presentation of “In Der Fremde” and a chance puppet play – each of the four locations will have what Mirlis refers to as “DIY Dada tables,” where adults and children can create their own Dada inspired poetry, masks, manifestos or photo montages.

“It’s so much more fun – it’s a participatory thing. I would rather people get their hands dirty,” Mirlis said. “I don’t want people to sit back and watch [because] this festival for me is not just entertainment. It’s about education, it’s about hearing what this movement it viscerally in your body.”

The evening cabaret will include everything from song, dance, burlesque and poetry by performers from both the Davis community and campus, ending the festival with a Dadaist bang.

“This movement was something that was very passionate for these artists,” Mirlis said. “I want to make sure that all participants – both the performers and the spectators – feel free to have fun and delve into this world of nonsense.”

For more information, visit dadacabaret.com.


ELENA BUCKLEY can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.



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