Discuss the Relationship Between Dada and Punk

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  • Topic: Dada, Art, Marcel Duchamp
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  • Published : April 21, 2013
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Discuss the Relationship Between Dada and Punk.

Within this essay I will be exploring the close relationship between Dada and Punk. Dada and Punk are both movements which were used to express a social change within their time, through art, fashion and music. Although the Dada movement was at its peak in 1916 to 1922 and the Punk movement started in the mid 1970s, both show the same ideologies and techniques towards they work. Throughout the essay I will break down each of the movements into certain groups and analyzes the similarities between both of them.

To understand the developments of both movements, you need to understand the environment in which they were formed. Dada started in 1916, two years after World War 1 started. World War 1 was a complicated war, involving many countries taking sides due to the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, the conflict was brought to a head in the battle of the Somme, France, 1916. This was when many artists, writers and others took refuge in Zurich, Switzerland, which was neutral during the war, many were angry at what was happening to the world, within the book Dadaism, Huelsenbeck (2004, pg 8) stated ‘None of us had any understanding for the courage that is needed to allow oneself to be shot dead for the idea of the nation...’, they were disgusted by the war and the idea that the nation’s public would support such violence, and they were frustrated with having no control over what was happening, a similar feeling the punks had in the 1970s.

Dadaism was about rebelling against the war, they wanted to take the control back and the only way they could was through art, Huelsenbeck (2004 pg 17) quoted ‘DADA means nothing. We want to change the world with nothing’, it is easy to see Dadaist felt the modern world they were now living in was meaningless and so wanted to reject all traditions, especially art tradition, so they decided to create non-art which had no meaning to go with the meaningless world, they took some control back.

The Punks had a similar attitude, they wanted to take back control of their future. The Punk movement started in the mid 1970s, a reaction against the recession. A recession which affected most of the working class, due to strikes, three day weeks and lack of opportunity, very different if you compare it to the days of the 1960s, where youth culture exploded on to the scene, free love and England was swinging. Due to the recession the youth of the working class felt failed and disillusioned, a feeling shown in the Sex Pistol’s song ‘God Save The Queen’(1977) ‘Don’t be told what you want, Don’t be told what you need, There’s no future, no future, No Future for you’. The punks felt like they had no voice, no power and no future so they wanted to make a statement, and like Dada, they wanted to take back control and the only way they could do this was through art, music and fashion. Image 1, ‘Dada’

It seems both movements were angry over the situation they were living in, and people will only live under that strain until an outburst happens, and when society does snap, people will want change. For the two movements they protested, Dada protested against the War and the bourgeois nationalist who they felt was the root of the war, while punks protested against the establishment. The Dadaist, George Grosz once stated that his work was a protest ‘against the world of mutual destruction’, a quote which fits well with the Dadaist but also the Punks, they used destruction of tradition as the protest against the destructive world. It is clear to see that the Punk movement looked up to Dada, just looking at Jamie Reid’s work and you can Dada’s influence by their use of type and the DIY look, same ideologies, there was even a fanzine issue called Dada which compared Punk to Dada, shown in ‘Image 1’ on the right. The Punks were well known for having left winged views, but really like most movements had many different political views. The main ideas...
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