Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Little Known Facts About Inter DADA 84

Walter Alter, the artist, served as Cavellini's interpreter during the event. He went on to create a San Francisco Renaissance conference and continued with his TV installation art.

 The Stencil King Scott Williams posted stencils around the city. Scott is considered the best in the world in the art form by many critics. Gaglione, me and Rockola point out stencil: Stencil archive

Terrence and I funded the events with our own money, loans from backers and admission fees paid by non-performers. The Victoria Theater was our most costly space and postage was our greatest operating expense. Many of the materials were donated by sponsors. All loans were paid in full personally by me from the Victoria Theater receipts.

I never heard what happen to the convertible with Cavellini stickers. If you know please email me.

Anna Banana made several Inter DADA 84 commemorative artistamps. This is just one of them.

DADA Calendar for the event.

Good article: 3 parts - click to enlarge if you can't read

Walter Alter Responds

InterDada '84... I am possessed by a demon flood of mnemonics, like an SFPD tazer to my third eye, man. It was a hot, sweaty, writhing Karo syrup wrestling pit of aesthetics, a Yucutan Spring Break of the collective Schwittergeist, a juggernaut of mirth and mania, a glorious din echoing the concrete canyons where Ad...renaline and Endorphia tangoed like shattered glass and shredded recaps on the Interstate. The heat of our loins rose and billowed as the ashes of Pinatubo overthrew the Throne of Saturn with itchy blindness, fits of sneezing and glossolalia. Many lost limbs, some their minds and the Earth still shudders in bliss.

"That event was very formative in my art career.  The use of the TV's at the Victoria launched me on my sculpture installation gig that lasted for 8-9 years and defined me as an artist.  I feel so lucky to have been part of the SF underground art scene at that time and to have done art that really made an impression.  A week didn't go by that I didn't have a sculpture in some rave venue or SOMA art space somewhere in town. My career has not been insignificant, and if I had been a little more savvy about schmoozing and playing the game, I might have ended up on the money wheel.  As it was, with the Batcave (ed note: scooter repair shop) being at the hub of a youth subculture and my busy installation schedule, I can imagine no cooler, hipper, more beautiful time in any artist's life.  So thanks, InterDada 84 was profound to me and I am grateful that you played that kind of role in my life." 

Walter was a substitute father figure and mentor to many young people at the time. Check out more about the SF youth scene in the 80s and the large scooter culture, influenced by SF's previous Beat and Mod subcultures,  at his Web site. http://walteralter.byethost32.com/


Monday, March 29, 2010

Inter DADA 84 Notes by Ginny Lloyd

Cavellini gets Cavellini'd in performance at Victoria Theater. Photo by Steve Caravello.

San Francisco in 1984 was THE world’s art happening place. Not NYC, not Paris, not London. Having traveled in ’81 and ’82 I witnessed first hand the art scenes in these places so I’m not being provincial when I make this declaration. There were activities non-stop in the city – artists’ events in vacant lots, shows in new galleries sprung up everywhere, exhibits in old motels, new and established clubs holding events. On one night you could go to five events and openings and still miss another ten. I could not have achieved a full week of art events in a major city like San Francisco if this charged energy had not existed.

DADA Fashion Show with Georgina and JES. Photo from JES Archive.

For those reading about Inter DADA 84 for the first time, it was a week long arts festival held September 2nd through September 9th, in San Francisco, CA. It was a celebration of DADA. Co-organized with Terrance McMahon, it was loosely modeled on Inter DADA 80 held in Ukiah, CA (well documented in Cavellini’s book Cavellini in California) and the Fourth of July Parades of my childhood. Because Terrence was working at a full time job and later started organizing another show with refrigerators, Inter DADA 84 became MY full time job in the summer of 1984. Fortunately Terrence had a well equipped press so we were able to produce promotional and event media at marginal costs, such as the program and event posters. But my job became chief organizer, mail art tracker, manager, fundraiser, promoter and publicist of the event - which was what I had not signed up for initially. It was to be Terrence and me organizing together with no other “directors”, self-proclaimed or not, but Terrence’s job consumed his time up until the week of the event.

DADA dance contest at Victoria Theater. Photo by Steve Caravello.

As one could expect organizing a group of artists who are not DADA is no mean feat, but for the most part the Dadaists were onboard to make it a memorable event. We’d had a long tradition of Bay Area Dadaists organizing events so the locals were used to working together. It was the out-of-towners from LA spearheaded by one protagonist who was the thorn in my side the whole time leading up to the event. These Dadaists could be very touchy and wanted things their way, but it wasn’t what I was there to do. I had a job to accomplish with no funding to start and a lot of enthusiasm to make up for a lack of staff.

Photo taken at Hotel Utah by Skooter: Abdada, Eva and JES.

I made calls to a select group of people I knew and trusted to do a job well asking for volunteers. No collective group decisions to bog things down, no long weekly meetings but everyone had to have a willingness to work an event to make it happen. For the most part this went smoothly and everyone did a wonderful job. The only management nightmares occurred when people I did not know were given responsibility, against my better judgment. Let’s just say Terrence’s friends were less than cooperative with me at the helm. I’ve seen this sailing when a crew member is just not agreeable to a woman captain being in charge. Times are changing and today people are more likely to work for someone who is different from them than ever before. Some people have authority issues..

Me in front of Victoria Theater taking a break on the convertible. Photo by Steve Caravello.

I went around the city securing sponsorship and space for the events. Terrance wanted to hold an event at the Victoria Theater so we could have a burlesque type of night and he basically was in charge of that and the mail art show hanging. A local bookstore was our headquarters and people checked in there to get a packet that included a T Shirt, program, button and pen (I still have some of these available for sale). Anna Banana was our liaison at this space and signed people up for the various events such as the fashion show, open poetry reading, and dance contest. I can barely remember it all so referring to the program the events included:
  • Original DADA books and films at the Goethe Institute
  • Lectures at Goethe Institute
  • Welcome and info center and art sales
  • Photo Show
  • Gaglione’s Stamp Art #5 compilation
  • Mail Art show
  • DADA Classics at the Roxie including the premiere of Cavellini in California film and Super 8’s (by artists who brought films)
  • Poetry reading at Hotel Utah
  • Dance and costume contest
  • Dinner and sound poetry at LaMamelle
  • Performances, fashion show and dance contest at Victoria Theater (2 nights)
  • Cavellini Writiing Performance with Eva Lake
  • After hours club
  • Parade
  • DADA Scream in Emeryville Flats
  • Videos showing at several clubs
  • Cavellini Car Raffle
One requirement of each performer, admission to perform was the creation of a poster or flyer and distribution around town. Everyone cooperated so there is a great collection of posters I’ll scan one day. With so many ads around, the town came out for the events to capacity in most cases.

Cavellini performs his writing on model. Photo by Jes.

The mail art show was huge and filled a complete room including the ceiling. So when you entered you literally entered the mail art. During the week people added to, subtracted from, and/or modified the art hung on the walls. I believe there were even pieces put on the floor by the artists installing the show.

 Terrence, Barbara, Carl and Georgina at mail art show, photo by JES.

As at the Hotel Utah (well documented in Mark Block's excerpt posted here), the performances and fashion show at the Victoria Theater had an audience that was jumping up and down in their seats, armed with wads of paper to throw whenever the mood struck, and heckling. One of my fondest memories was sitting in the theater next to Patricia Tavenner hollering and screaming at the show until we were both hoarse with laughter. In true DADA fashion it was a bloody fun fiasco.

Dinner with Ray Johnson masks. Photo by Steve Caravello.

The sit down dinner at LaMamelle catered by Mark Rennie's Billboard cafe, was a classic reunion of people from all over the world meeting and greeting. We had a great laugh with the Ray Johnson masks and again it was one of my favorite events. In fact I enjoyed myself immensely during the week. By the time the festival start arrived I was able to step back and let the volunteers do their jobs and let the events operate on their own steam. Other than a mail art show that wasn’t hung yet four hours before the opening, I didn’t have to step in to take control of any other event. Due to the wonderful volunteers, led by Jurgen Olbrich’s experience it got done!

Of note, the Goethe Institute provided sponsorship in several critical ways. They presented an exhibition of original Dada books and materials shipped in from Germany, original Dada films and lectures by Eva Lake and Anna Banana.

Parade with Cavellini in the sticker car with Pan (Mark Block) on back. Photo by Steve Caravello.

The final event was the parade around a square block Are We Really obtained a permit for. The city was perplexed as to why we only wanted a square block and wanted to have us go down a street in a straight line but we Dadaists’ would not have it. Cavellini and bride rode in the convertible wearing a cowboy hat chauffeured by the new owner of the raffled off convertible covered in the Cavellini red and green stickers.

There are many more stories and lots of people involved. Write up your story for me to post! Send photos!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

-ING: Live From The Inter Dada 84 Festival

I share this performance memory from -ING

"San Francisco, September 8th, 1984

The final public performance of the San Francisco Bay Area Performing Duo called “–ING” showcased Charles Rice Goff III and Steve Schaer opening the second night of a Dada variety show which featured several bizarre acts from all over the world. The “Inter Dada ‘84” festival was a well-coordinated presentation of still art, film, drama, music, and theater, held in San Francisco during September, 1984. Venues all over the city hosted the festival’s various displays of absurdity. The main stage for the two nights of Inter Dada performance was the large old Victoria Theater on 16th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District. This was the last place that –ING ever played for an audience.

The temperature in San Francisco on the date of -ING's performance was 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is unnaturally hot for the city. This heat combined with fate to afflict Goff and Schaer with a number of technical problems. The reel of recording tape that they had brought for their Frippertronics-style tape loop system developed an unusual tendency to feedback, requiring the volume of the tape loop repetitions to be reduced. One of two monitor speakers blew out during the soundcheck, making it difficult for Goff and Schaer to hear these subdued tape repetitions and, consequently, making it difficult for them to get their tape loop timing right. To top all of this off, during the middle of the performance, Schaer’s ARP Odyssey synthesizer began to produce unexpected shifts in pitch and waveform.

Despite all of these problems, Goff and Schaer performed their set with bravado, and the large audience gave no indication that it was aware of –ING’s technical travails. The duo received a standing ovation, then left the stage sweaty and jittery. Goff and Schaer never performed publicly as –ING again. A tragic coincidence must be mentioned here as well: Schaer took his own life exactly 14 years to the day after this performance."

The live music can be found at: http://www.archive.org/details/INGinterDada

Inter DADA 84 - per Mark Bloch - Excerpts from his unpublished essay

Poster by Eva Lake.
San Francisco 4 years later: Inter-Dada ‘84. This time, in addition to Cavellini, the town was packed with mail artists from all over the world. One of the first nights we met at the Hotel Utah, a little night club that had been rounded up and these meager surroundings turned out to host one of the highlights of my life. The stage was sunken so that the seats looked down on it on a sharp incline. The audience was packed with raucous mail artists. The night erupted almost immediately into a cross between a cock fight and a drunken bris, all tinted with the loud, delicious odor of rancid dada insults. Maybe this was just more of the same old same old, the type of thing Marcel Janko’s daughter seemed to be scolding us about, but to me it was as pure a dada cocktail as I would ever drink in my life. I had spent the previous years reading anything about Dada and Duchamp I could get my hands on, now to me, this seemed like the real thing. Real no-holds-barred audience participation; no performer could utter a word without instant feedback from the crowd. The audience absolutely made it. Each of us got up and did a turn as performer and the crowd roared its approval or disapproval. I realize now I have never tried to write about this and it is a very difficult thing to do because it was beyond words. I can only say it was the unmistakable highlight of my short dada life AND REMAINS SO TODAY. It really struck me as what real dada might have been like. Spontaneous, wild, unruly, over the top, creative. People were making up performances on the spot. If it wasn’t top-notch dada, the crowd hooked them around the neck with catcalls, shouts and the throwing of food, coins and crumpled papers. Nothing was sacred. The standards were high. But those that were good got applause, the rest were run off the stage in an instant.

Why do I mention this? Why did I not mention that later that week there was a splendid Dada Scream organized at the side of the freeway in Emeryville where I met Mr. Postcards, Norman Solomon, one of Ray Johnson’s oldest friends? Or the dada fashion show in an enormous auditorium or the dada parade featuring Cavellini and his new wife Barbara circling the block repeatedly in a car festooned with green and red stickers?

I mention these things to historify them...

His Web site is located at: http://www.panmodern.com/