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Dada Africa, Non-Western Sources and Influences

Exhibition organised in Paris by the Rietberg Museum Zurich and the Berlinische Galerie Berlin, in conjunction with the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie.

Dada, a prolific and subversive art movement, first emerged in Zurich during the First World War, and then spread to centres such as Berlin, Paris and New York. Through their new works – sound poems, collage, performance – the Dada artists question Western society struggling with the first World War, while appropriating the cultural and artistic forms of non-western cultures such as Africa, Oceania and America.
The Musée de l’Orangerie is presenting an exhibition on these exchanges with African, American Indian and Asian works alongside those of the Dadaists - Hanna Höch, Jean Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Marcel Janco, Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Raoul Haussmann, Man Ray and Picabia, among others.

The Dada soirées will feature archive material of films of dance, sound documents, music, revealing the diversity, inventiveness and radical nature of Dada productions – textiles, graphics, posters, assemblages, wooden reliefs, dolls and puppets – in relation to the strange beauty and rarity of the non-western works: a Hemba statue and Makonde mask from Africa, a Hannya mask from Japan, the prow of a Maori pirogue...
As the home of the Jean Walter - Paul Guillaume collection, the Musée de l’Orangerie is the perfect place for this exhibition. Paul Guillaume, an important dealer in African art, played a leading role in this cultural encounter that took place against a background of hybrids, genre and colonial attitudes.

In counterpoint to the exhibition, the works of two contemporary artists will be presented at the museum:
- two photographs by the artist Athi-Patra Ruga from a performance and a reflection on identity… A Vigil for Mayibuye (from the Exile series), 1915 and The Future White Woman of Azania, 2012
- a collection of works (tapestries, photographs and drawings) by Otobong Nkanga, including two tapestries In Pursuit of Bling, 2014.

Athi-Patra Ruga lives and works in Johannesburg. Exploring the border zones between fashion, performance and contemporary art. Athi-Patra Ruga’s work exhibits and subverts the body in relation to structure, ideology and politics. Bursting with eclectic multicultural references, carnal sensuality and a dislocated undercurrent of humour, his performances, videos, costumes and photographic images create a world where cultural identity is no longer determined by geographical origin, ancestry or biological disposition, but is increasingly becoming a hybrid construct.
Otobong Nkanga, an artist who trained in Nigeria and Paris, lives and works in Antwerp. Her drawings, installations, photographs, performances and sculptures question in different ways the notion of territory and the value accorded to natural resources. In several of her works, Otobong Nkanga reflects metonymically on the different customs and cultural values connected to natural resources, exploring how meaning and function are relative in cultures, and revealing the various roles and histories of these materials, particularly in the context of her own life and memories.

This display was made possible with the support of Fabienne Leclerc / Galerie In Situ, Paris.

General curators   
Ralf Burmeister, Head of Artists’ Archives at the Berlinische Galerie in Berlin
Michaela Oberhofer, Curator of African and Oceanic Arts at the Rietberg Museum in Zurich
Esther Tisa Francini, Head of Written Archives and Research from the Rietberg Museum in Zurich

Curators for the exhibition in Paris  
Cécile Debray, Chief Heritage Curator, Director of the Musée de l’Orangerie
Cécile Girardeau, curator at the Musée de l’Orangerie
Assisted by Sylphide de Daranyi, Documentary Research Officer, and Valérie Loth, Research Officer at the Musée de l’Orangerie

In partnership with Paris Première, Libération, Les Inrockuptibles and France Culture

With the generous Support of Pro Helvetia, Fondation suisse pour la culture



Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889-1943), Motifs abstraits (masques), 1917
Stiftung Arp e.V., Rolandswerth/Berlin
© Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin / Rolandswerth. Wolfgang Morell


Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the exhibition (in French) on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 4pm, from 25 October 2017 to 10 February 2018.

Guided tours in French sign language (LSF) for the hearing-impaired are available on 4 November, 9 December 2017 and 6 January 2018 at 11am.

Inaugural lecture
Cécile Girardeau, curator of the exhibition
Wednesday 18 October, 6.30pm

Dada Africa. A transversal approach
Esther Tisa Franchini, curator
Wednesday 8 November, 7pm

Dada and the Arts of Africa: a Radical Primitivism?
Maureen Murphy, lecturer in the history of contemporary art, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, member of the Institut Universitaire de France
Wednesday 29 November, 7pm

"Exhibiting Dada": the Centre Pompidou experience
Laurent Le Bon, President of the Musée Picasso-Paris
Wednesday 6 December, 7pm

Tristan Tzara and Poésie Nègre
Henri Béhar, professor emeritus at the Sorbonne, specialist in French avant-garde literature, editor of Complete Works by Tristan Tzara
Thomas Fitterer,  actor
Maryline Fontaine, staging
Wednesday 13 December, 7pm

Africa after Dada
Philippe Dagen, art historian, professor at the Université de la Sorbonne Paris I
Wednesday 3 January, 7pm

Dada. Hybridisation and Non-Western Sources
Tuesday 23  January 2018
From 10am to 1pm at the auditorium of the musée de l’Orangerie
From 3pm to 6 pm at the auditorium of the Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art

Zoom Dada
Gesture theatre / Hip hop
By the Théâtre Bascule Company
Tuesday 5 december, 7pm

Dada Paradis
With the Centre Dramatique National  Les Tréteaux de France, the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris and the Conservatoire national supérieur d’art dramatique de Paris.
Fridays 8 and 15 December 2017, 12 and 19 January 2018 at 7pm and 8.30pm

Auditorium du musée d'Orsay

Echoing the theme of the exhibition, the Musée d’Orsay auditorium invites you to take a trip into the Paris of the 1920s, where the newcomer, jazz, is driving the capital wild.
The programme gives an insight into what was, more than Dada music as such, the spirit of Dada and its influence on musical works of the period.
Drawn from every register, inspired by non-European music, and particularly by jazz that arrived in Paris with the American troops at the end of the First World War, the artists of this era, like Darius Milhaud, made profound changes to the way music was written and experienced.

Ensemble Calliopée
Work of Darius Milhaud, Reese Europe James, George Gershwin, Scott Joplin, Amy Beach, Claude Debussy, Frederick Delius, Irving Berlin, Walter Damrosch, Samuel Barber
Tuesday 14 November 2017, 12.30pm

Louise Moaty, concept and projections
Alexeï Lubimov, piano
"Erik Satie/John Cage": somewhere between pre-cinema and object theatre, shadow theatre and magic lantern projections are in dialogue with the pianos of Erik Satie and John Cage, creating dreamlike sketches of a musical landscape.
Until Tuesday 21 November 2017, 12.30pm


A Night of Dada
In collaboration with the École du Louvre.
Saturday 27 January from 6.30pm

Viva Dada, by Régine Abadia (2015)
Duration: 52 mins
Shown in the auditorium of the Musée de l'Orangerie
Wednesday to Monday during the exhibition at 11am, 1.45pm and 4.30pm