WAS IST KUNST HUGO BALL?
December 17, 2011 – February 21, 2012
“When I came across the word ‘Dada’ I was called upon twice by Dionysius. D.A.D.A. (Dionysius Aeropagite). At that time I was interested in the alchemy of letters and words.”
-Hugo Ball, 18.6.1921
Was ist Kunst Hugo Ball will confront Greek-Orthodox icons with IRWIN-framed Dada works, complying with Dionysius’ invocation. This is the exhibitionʼs second presentation after it was conceived for and shown at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich in 2010. In Ljubljana Irwin will be showing the magazine Dada 4-5 of 1919, as well as the famous photograph of Hugo Ball as magical bishop dressed in a Cubist costume. Furthermore, there will be a large-scale photograph of Bishop Metodij Zlatanov, Christian-Orthodox Metropolitan of Macedonia, produced specifically for this exhibition and showing him holding in his hands an original Dada work from the Kunsthaus Zürich as if it was an
icon in a procession.
Adrian Notz, co-producer of Was ist Kunst Hugo Ball and director of Cabaret Voltaire, describes icons as “ritualistic tools which do not represent holiness but are the substance itself, thus giving direct access to divinity. Their function as ritualistic tools brings icons very close to what Hugo Ball tried to achieve with Dada. Dada was neither a ʻstyleʼ nor a ʻmovement of artʼ, but a gesture Ball thought would help him obtain mystic insights. He conceived of this notion the night he was intoning phonetic poems in the guise and voice of a bishop. On 18 June 1921 Ball wrote in his diary Flucht aus der Zeit (1927): when I came across the word ʻDadaʼ Dionysius called upon me twice. D.A. –
D.A. He was not talking about Bacchus (Dionysus), but Dionysius Areopagita, a controversial mystic from the 5th century A.D. Ball had published a book about in 1923 entitled Byzantinisches Christentum.
IRWIN has dealt with the subject of icons in their series Was ist Kunst since 1984. In direct reference to the Last Futurist Exhibition 0,10, staged in St. Petersburg in 1915, IRWIN presents the pictures of their series in similar ‘Petersburg hanging’ fashion as the Suprematists did, Malevich’s Black Square hanging in the corner facing the entrance, the place where one would expect an icon to hang, thus turning it into an icon in its own right and becoming what this painting has been for years: the essential modern icon. IRWIN used Malevich’s Black Square, other Suprematist icons and other motives from the history of art and formulated them into a new whole. In 1995, when Was Ist Kunst
was translated into icons, IRWIN selected a number of it’s own formulations out of the entire Was Ist Kunst body of works and started, following the tradition of icon painting, to copy them. Images from both series are connected by specific frames that are used to homogenize the diversity of aspects.”