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Dada Lives On… On Instagram
Lady Gaga is Dada. Your toilet is Dada. Reddit is Dada. Life is Dada. Is anything not Dada?
Art Girls Jungle 17 Feb 2019

Dada. You know—or at least you think you know—what is it, but how the hell do you define it? Anti-art, anti-establishment, radical, nonsense, irrational, absurd… Dada is all that and so much more.
You could argue that the entire modern (or post-modern, if you like) world is essentially Dada. From memes to meta-everything, these days you can pretty much walk outside, point your finger at any random and call it Dada, and you won’t be wrong. Lady Gaga is Dada. Your toilet is Dada. Reddit is Dada. Life is Dada. Is anything not Dada? And if Dada is everything, what does Dada even mean anymore?
It was this last question that I decided to investigate. And since nothing is more Dada than Internet culture, Instagram seemed like the perfect place to kick off this contemporary Dada safari. So I set out, armed with a laptop, some headphones and an oat latte (ok, homemade drip coffee and store-bought oat milk because it’s cheaper than almond milk, but let me feel fancy for a second), ready to scour the darkest corners of the ‘Gram to bring to light the obscure descendants of Dada.
Every explorer needs a compass to guide her through uncharted territory, whether it’s a thick tropical jungle or a digital minefield of butt selfies. My compass was the following collection of questions: how is Dada being referenced and used today? How has its original ethos survived, and how has it evolved and mutated over the last century? Basically, do people today even know what Dada originally was, and what does Dada mean today?
So grab your bucket hat, your binoculars and your fanny pack and join me for a bumpy ride through 10 Dada-inspired IG accounts, a journey that will bring us to the core of contemporary Dada and answer all these burning questions and more!

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At first, I, like most people probably would, mistook this for an account that posts daily Dada artwork. I couldn’t have been more wrong. DADA Daily is a “HEALTHFUL SNACK COMPANY” (unnecessary all caps is so Dada) that “set out to break the rules of health food trends & bring FREEDOM back into how we eat!” Ohhh, ok, I see the connection now. Just kidding, I don’t.
More than anything, this first account just shows the ridiculous hoops that brand have to jump through these days, ever since marketing became all about storytelling and authenticity. I like my ethically manufactured, transparent artisan denim brands just like the next Millennial, but why does healthy snacking have to be about freedom now? Can’t it just be about… I don’t know… healthy snacking? Apparently not.
Is it kind of silly? Yes. Is it Dada? Also probably yes. It might not be very anti-capitalist, but the all-natural, no-icky-ingredients ethos of Dada Daily is sort of anti-corporate in a corporate way. It’s kind of a heavy argument wrapped up in something silly and inconsequential, like vegan chips… and Dada!

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Turns out they love cookies in Dada Land! Who knew?
Next up, a Swedish EDM duo by the name of Dada Life. According to Spotify, they’re “known for their humor during their live performances.” Ok, I’ll bite.
From a very, very shallow investigation conducted by someone who is about as far from an expert in electronic music as it gets, I came to this very specialized conclusion: their music sounds pretty similar to mainroom EDM, but maybe a bit more techno-y.
On the other hand, their newly released track, “Sunday Fuck You Too” resonated with me on a deep, spiritual level. For a remote writer living in France, a country generally allergic to working hard but even more so on Sundays, a day when laziness is pretty much sanctified and when accepted activity is limited to “marketing,” sipping coffee on cutesy patios and strolling around with tiny dogs, Sunday is even more shitty by contrast. Allow me to explain. When you work remotely and have a tendency to procrastinate (which all writers do), every day is a Sunday except for actual Sunday, which is, without fail, an 18-hour workday. It’s the day when “end of the week” deadlines hit, forcing you to hole up in your kitchen and vow that next week you’ll create and stick to a sensible work schedule instead of wasting time sipping coffee on cutesy patios or watching reality TV about cat pageants on Netflix (it was for research!). Hence: Sunday, Fuck You Too.
But back to Dada Life. If we read into the track a bit more deeply, it becomes a sly subversion of the bourgeois, religious order that decrees that Sundays are fun and relaxing, which is all very anti-establishment and very Dada, if you ask me.

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Next, my sleuthing brought me to this South Korean K-Beauty and K-fashion brand’s page. Hmm, something might have gotten lost in translation here.

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Photo by Leslie Zhang.
According to the bio, DADAMAX is a designer who makes “customized blazers, embroidered portraits”… “and dreams.” Very highbrow masquerading as lowbrow, kind of obscure and absurdist—yep, it’s Dada! And the cut-up aesthetic of the shots on their IG fits neatly with the O.G. movement’s vibe as well. The blazers are actually really cool (graffiti on clothes always reminds me of signing each other’s t-shirts at camp or on the last day of school as a kid), but I think my first order from DADAMAX will be a dream, as advertised. I’ll let you know what they send me.

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“Uh Oh . . . K”
If we’re looking for the modern-day successor that best captures the spirit of the original Dada, we might have our winner. First off, this account perfectly captures everything that’s confusing and absurd about contemporary Internet culture. Is this an art account or a brand page? Does the difference exist anymore? And more importantly, does it even matter?
Now, let’s dig into the bio:
~ ZEN fidget | ART bot | NON toy
~ chill | create | decorate | endless fun
~ free shipping anywhere on earth
~
Ok, a quick close reading confirms that everything about this screams Dada. “NON toy”? What does that even mean? No one knows what it means, but it’s provocative. If something isn’t a toy, then what’s the point of calling it a non-toy? Exactly the same point as calling something that isn’t art “non-art”—as the original Dada did.
Next, what exactly is a ZEN fidget? Seems impossible, yet here it is, and here we are.
Finally, “ART bot” is just the sort of futuristic, intriguing and sort of empty phrase that the Dadaists would’ve been all over. We ship it.

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A modern love story.
This seems like a pretty run-of-the-mill Dada tribute account, nothing wildly exciting but overall pretty true to the spirit of Dada. Not sure if the posts live up to the bio (starts with “The Real Earthling Asshole” and only gets better!), but a solid account nonetheless.

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Who wants to host a masquerade so I can wear this?
Ok, someone had to say it: this aesthetic, and the whole concept of the concept store (ha), is really much more Bauhaus than Dada. Come on, guys, get your early twentieth century central European intellectual art movements straight. Cool products though—definitely going to tuck this one away for the next time I need a trendy but sort of neutral gift for an acquaintance.

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Design by @thomas.dariel.
Another trendy global design shop that’s more indebted to Bauhaus than Dada. It’s just a bit too heavy on the sleek, glorified Ikea meets color-block aesthetic and not enough chaos and visual anarchy, if you catch my drift. But I won’t hold it against them because their designs are actually really nice. I will definitely consider buying one of their knick knacks when I finally decide to replace the cardboard box that’s currently serving as my nigh table with a real night table.

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Photo by @dasomhahn.

Like Dada, I’m not sure what this means, but I’m into it. Plus, (bare with me as I state the obvious) the oversized suits remind me of the Vetements aesthetic, which is all very Dada.
Which leads us to…

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…Dasom Hahn, photographer and member of the Dadaism Club, a modern, Dada-inspired art collective is alive and well in Seoul. Only the meaning has shifted a bit—in Korean, “da” means “all,” so “Dada” becomes “All all”… which takes us back full circle to where this article started, which is that Dada is everything and everything is Dada. Neat!
Dadaism Club “is a group of 9 or so members that produce creative content for the sake of creating content” (like the hilarious video “How to Dada Eat” which sort of reminds you of “Semiotics of the Kitchen”). Like the original Dadaists, they “do not restrict themselves to any aesthetic formalities but rather try to informally imbue experimental vibes and emotions through their changing mediums of work.”
I don’t know about you, but after conducting this very comprehensive and systematic research, I feel no closer to a contemporary definition of Dada. Still, it’s nice to know that its spirit lives on in the digital clusterfuck that is today’s art world.

Text by Katya Lopatko 
Images via @dadadaily, @dadalife, @dadasecret, @dada_dadamax, @thedada.is, @neo.dada, @ledadashop, @maisondada, @dasomhahn

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