Was Japanese Dada Even Tougher Than Its European Versions?

THE DAILY PIC: The New York Public Library presents an Asian version of Dada that was explosive.


THE DAILY PIC (#1621): Today’s Pic illuminates an arm of the international Dada movement about which I was totally ignorant – its Japanese arm. I’m showing the cover of a 1924 issue of the Japanese Dada journal called Mavo, edited by Tatsuo Okada and the Berlin-trained Tomoyoshi Murayama and currently on view in a little display in the main building of the New York Public Library. The library has timed this selection from its Dada holdings to coincide with the great “Dadaglobe Reconstructed” exhibition taking place down the street at the Museum of Modern Art.

One of the odder things about Dada, most anarchical of movements, is that it depended so completely for its existence and propagation on the orderly mechanisms of international travel, publishing and communications.

On Sept. 6, the library will be hosting a conversation about Dada and “the significance of the mass-produced, photomechanically printed book for the presentation of radical works.” I wonder if any of the speakers will touch on how Dada’s continuing cultural survival now depends on the famously orderly mechanisms of curating and librarianship.

Mavo originally came with a firecracker attached to its cover: How many museums or libraries would want that detail “read” outloud in their halls? (Courtesy New York Public Library)

 For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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