Dada was an anti-art movement started in 1915/16 in New York and Zürich, its most important figures being Tristan Tzara, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia and Man Ray. It was both aggressive and thoughtful, verbally violent and yet philosophical. It embraced chance in its anti-rational zeal to turn the world inside-out.
Tzara wrote poems by cutting up and randomly re-arranging phrases from newspapers. He called Dada “a return to an almost Buddhist religion of indifference… Dada is immobility and does not comprehend the passions.”
Duchamp signed a urinal and entered it into an art show. He insisted that art is anything which the artists chooses and designates as art. He was an early experimenters with gender: in 1920 he created a female alter-ego for himself, photographed by Man Ray and nurtured throughout his life: “Rrose Selavy”.
George Maciunas, the ‘chairman’ of Fluxus, its coordinator for more than twenty-five years, wrote in 1962 to one of the original Dadaists, Raoul Hausmann, for advice on whether to use the name NeoDada or Fluxus. Haussmann advised: “Why not simply ‘Fluxus’? It seems to me much better, because it’s new, and dada is historic.”