Thursday, March 25, 2010

Inter DADA 84 - per Mark Bloch - Excerpts from his unpublished essay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

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