Freedom of art

Updated: 22 November, 2018 10:38 IST | Snigdha Hasan | Mumbai

Drawing on the core ideas of Dadaism, ahip- hop dance and theatre performance from France portrays the spirit of the art movement that questions authority and fuels the desire to reinvent the world

Iliass Mjouti
Iliass Mjouti

"Revolted by the butchery of the 1914 World War, we in Zurich devoted ourselves to the arts. While the guns rumbled in the distance, we sang, painted, made collages and wrote poems with all our might," wrote Hans Arp, a key Dada figure, who like many of his contemporary artists, musicians and poets responded to the horrors of war through his satirical, nonsensical work that rejected the logic, reason and aestheticism of modern capitalist society.

The world may not be at war any more, but the anti-bourgeois ethos of Dadaism has much to question and challenge in the times we live in. Bringing alive the spirit of this form of artistic anarchy is Zoom Dada, a hip-hop dance and theatre performance by France's Theatre Bascule. On its maiden nine-city tour of India, the performance, known for its playful exploration of freedom, will be staged in Mumbai tonight as part of a collaboration between Alliance Française de Bombay and G5A.

Iliass Mjouti and Rafaël Smadja in performance. Pics/Eric Minette
Iliass Mjouti and Rafaël Smadja in performance. Pics/Eric Minette

"The basic idea of Zoom Dada was to empower the creative mind with the idea of using, discovering the world around you. The show also talks about disobedience and authority — something that has become your leader, your inventor.

To do that, it was necessary to base the performance on two protest movements, Dadaism and hip hop, that create a mix between theatre and dance," says Stéphane Fortin, the theatre group's artistic director.

Iliass Mjouti and Rafael Smadja

The performance features two characters, out of ideas to shape their identities, in search of inspiration to represent themselves. They respond to a series of images — which seem to depict the dominant ideas of the time — copying them at times and defying them at others.

"Sometimes, you have to defend your identity and your freedom, especially your freedom, to create," Fortin explains, adding that the characters emote through movements, without uttering a word.

Iliass Mjouti and Rafael Smadja

The music, videos and images have a Dada touch, too. Collages created by pasting pieces of paper including tickets, maps and wrappers, for instance, were extensively used by Dadaists, and feature in the performance.

While many of the artistic movements, such as surrealism (which began in the early 1920s), that emerged after Dadaism were inspired by it, Fortin feels that much of what one sees in the world of art today is for commercial purpose. "Some artists, who remain isolated today, have a Dada spirit," he shares. "It is essential to remain vigilant in the face of society that dictates rules, and tells you what to think."

Iliass Mjouti and Rafael Smadja

On Tonight, 7 pm
At G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture, Shakti Mills lane, Mahalaxmi.
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Entry Rs 350

First Published: 22 November, 2018 10:00 IST

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