Dadaist Organic Urban Idealism?
April 26, 2006 9:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm having trouble tracking down information about a movement in Dada-ist Art I heard about a few years ago. From what I remember Dadaist idealism inspired a group of artists to contemplate the organic development of urban environments. Art, using the defined structure of the city, to reflect the chaotic order which arises from nature. Did this century old movement exist or has my brain made it up?
posted by 0bvious to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Are you thinking of the Situationists? They seem to be from the 1950's, but other than that they sound like what you're looking for.
posted by lekvar at 9:26 PM on April 26, 2006

I'm not a dada expert but I've worked on a few books and exhibitions about dada (and its related/contemporary movements), and this doesn't really ring a bell to me. Certainly the dadaists, constructivists, futurists, etc. of the time were all highly influenced by the technology, industrialization, and socio-cultural implications of urban environments, but I'm not aware of any of the dada movements using this as an entry point into contemplating nature, per se.

There was a Yugoslavian variant of dada (known as zenitism) that included a kind of mythic/nationalist level to it that contained some idealized imagery of nature, and (later) there was wing of surrealism (which came out of dada) that focused a lot on organic shapes and automatism... could either of these be what you're thinking of?
posted by scody at 9:38 PM on April 26, 2006

Response by poster: That looks like it might be it...

I was also told about a specific art event which these 'urban surrealists' undertook.

It involved tracing an absolute straight line across a city and attempting to follow it, on foot, whatever obstacles came their way.

Ring any bells?
posted by 0bvious at 9:40 PM on April 26, 2006

Best answer: The Situationists were heavily concerned with the idea of idealized cities as art and life as art - and cities as life.

There's been a handful of posts recently and overall on MeFi about it.

See also: Guy Debord.

You may also enjoy this recent MetaChat post.

You may also like some Hakim Bey. Particularly The Temporary Autonomous Zone, which seems to be a fitting - if somewhat less militant and partisan and more paranoid and stealthy - update on the Situationist city-scape idea-games. The TAZ is based on the "happening", "be-in", rave or Burning Man-type events, and these in turn are also based on TAZ.

Also, as for your "It involved tracing an absolute straight line across a city and attempting to follow it, on foot, whatever obstacles came their way." question, I know I've read that somewhere, and it was probably in a text at the Situationist International archives.

It's probably also where the "Parkour" urban-gymnastics phenomenon derives from.
posted by loquacious at 9:59 PM on April 26, 2006

Best answer: if it is the situationists, you may be thinking of a Dérive
posted by juv3nal at 11:06 PM on April 26, 2006

Response by poster: I think my original problem was in searching exclsively for 'Dada' inspired urban art.

Thanks for your input guys, great response!
posted by 0bvious at 11:44 PM on April 26, 2006

You might be interested in The Situationist City by Simon Sadler. Also Psychogeography.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:42 AM on April 27, 2006

The Bureau Of Public Secrets has enough Situationist material to keep you busy reading for a long while.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:12 AM on April 27, 2006

Best answer: There is an image from Hannah Hoch's sketchbook, a photomontage of tree roots merged with an aerial view of Manhattan. Constant's Nieuwenhuys New Babylon project is imagined similarly, though decades later. New Babylon is built on top of existing cities as a material manifestation of the principles of Unitary Urbanism. Constant's plans were literal collages on top of contemporary maps. Devoting the remainder of his life to the project, he produced an extraordinary body of models, sculptures, paintings, drawings, and collages. Your question makes me wonder what other territories lie between the Hoch image and New Babylon.
posted by xod at 11:16 AM on April 27, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks again for your input. For anyone interested here is the reason i asked for this in the first place.

posted by 0bvious at 7:47 AM on May 1, 2006

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