Modern art enthusiasts donned avant-garde attire to enjoy a celebration of Dadaism at the Yale University Art Gallery’s “Dada Ball.”
Held last Thursday evening at the YUAG, the event was organized in conjunction with “Everything is Dada,” an exhibition commemorating the centennial of the eponymous artistic movement. Attendees were encouraged to wear Dada-inspired costumes, and were served a variety of playful finger foods. An unconventional soundtrack and photo booth paid homage to irreverence that characterized early 20th-century Dadaists.
Frauke Josenhans, curator of “Everything is Dada,” said she thought the ball was a fitting tribute to Dada events that took place 100 years ago in Zurich, which brought together artists from different backgrounds for improvised performances at the Cabaret Voltaire.
“The Dada Ball connected the art gallery with the larger community in a wonderful celebration of the Dada spirit, which, clearly, is still alive,” Josenhans said.
Many of the costumes worn by attendees were inspired by the works on display in the YUAG exhibition, Josenhans explained. She added that homemade renditions of Jean Arp’s Schnurrhut — one of the pieces on view in “Everything is Dada” — were popular costume choices.
Daphne Martin ’19, who attended Thursday’s event, said that she was impressed by the variety of outlandish clothing choices, which she added seemed representative of the aesthetic nature of the movement.
“I was overwhelmed and pleasantly surprised by the plethora of people in ridiculous costumes,” Martin said.
The theme of overturning expectations extended to other elements of the ball. Quinoa canapés were presented in ice-cream cones and dessert-inspired dips were served on savory platters. Attendees sipped “fake absinthe,” served in place of one of the Dada era’s most popular alcoholic beverages.
Jin Ai Yap ’17, the DJ for the event, said her soundtrack was inspired by Dada sound poems. Yap altered songs’ pitches, added filters and played with tempo to create sounds reminiscent of the movement’s erratic poetic stylings. In particular, she highlighted PC Music — a record label that satirizes pop music by combining spoken or poorly sung vocals with “manufactured-sounding” beats — as a source of inspiration for her multi-layered musical creations.
The event’s photography station was intended as a revolt against the traditional photo booth, explained Mistina Hanscom, whose photography firm, Lotta Studio, conceptualized the structure. Hanscom mentioned that the perspective of the booth, which was divided into two separate halves, “force[d] closeness, provoking comfort or discomfort in patrons while maneuvering around the piercing skewers.”
Josenhans said the ball accurately conveyed the Dada spirit and gave YUAG patrons a chance to consider the works on display in the exhibition in a more experiential context.
“The Dada Ball exceeded all of my expectations; it was playful, irreverent, eclectic and most importantly everyone was enjoying themselves,” Josenhans noted.
“Everything is Dada” will remain on display at the Yale University Art Gallery through July 3.