For all of its outrageous behavior, chaotic imagery, cacophonous sounds, and humorous wordplay, Dada held at its core a serious ethical stance against contemporary social and political conditions. Its assaultive strategies—the exploitation of nontraditional artistic materials, mining of mass media, attack on the traditions of art history, destruction of language, exploration of the unconscious, and cutting and pasting of photomontage—were a form of protest that echoed the aggressive tactics witnessed in World War I. The dadaists irrevocably pushed the boundaries of what qualifies as art, paving the way for much of what has followed. Dada questioned and affected what art can look like, as well as what art can do, and set the stage for many avant-garde movements—including surrealism, pop art, and performance art. Dada also irrevocably changed the landscape of popular culture, influencing graphic design, advertising, and film, and breaking down barriers between high and low art. Looking back to the movement nearly a century after its inception and noting Dada's many resonances, it is clear that (in the words of the dadaists themselves) "Dada siegt!"—Dada triumphs!
Text written by Lynn Kellmanson Matheny