Throughout 2016 and 2017 some of my prints are on tour with Dada ist 100; a touring exhibition of letterpress work celebrating 100 years of Dada. Originally a protest against the horrors of the First World war; Dada originated in Zurich in 1916 and encompasses performance, music, literature, visual art and typography. Over 60 letterpress workshops have contributed to the exhibition which will travel through Germany, Austria and Switzerland. There is work behind the scenes to extend the tour to Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and the US.
Dada is renowned in the typographic world for challenging the normal typographic practices of the period. Similarly this touring exhibition contains prints which feature bold expressive typography; jarring juxtapositions of imagery and modernist graphic forms. Many presses have utilized experimental techniques within letterpress – a process many consider constraining – to great effect to produce prints which in turn appear nonsensical, ironic, challenging and provocative.
For the exhibition I produced two pieces of work: Dada: nicht Dumm (Dada isn't dumb) and Dada Trumpet. The first piece Dada: nicht Dumm uses type as illustration: Dumm is typeset in the form of typographic bombs raining from the sky (and references dum-dum bullets and the mud of the trenches). Dada is expressed as an alarmed typographic face. 1916 bleeds off the page.
For Dada Trumpet I considered Dada’s musical tradition and how the intricate forms and tones of brass instruments suggest the surreal nature of Dada. The letters D A D A in the form of large wood type were arranged to form a trumpet shape whilst other letterforms were contrived to form the valves – arranged to produce A or D major when pressed by that most Dada of type ornament, a red manicule or printer’s fist. The music is expressed as exclamatory punctuation expelled from the bell of the instrument. Printed in gold and silver inks with black and red accents.