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Berlin Dada and the Time of Revolution

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


Despite its brief history, Berlin Dada (1918–20) produced a glut of chronicles and memoirs, as if to immortalize its ephemeral insurgency. Its self-appointed chronicler, Richard Huelsenbeck, tried to harness this compulsion to memorialize in the service of Dadaist agitation he hoped would unleash a revolutionary time and redeem the failure of the communist uprisings at the end of World War I. his seditious temporality was based on two incompatible concepts of revolution: a properly political notion aimed at overthrowing an unjust regime and a vitalist discourse aimed at tapping into the circular low of life. he clash of the two modes of revolutionary time is enacted in Hannah Höch's photomontage “Cut with the Kitchen Knife” (1919). he spectral temporality that sustains both is conjured by the Dada Almanac (1920), a literary compendium that doubles as a quirky inquiry into political normativity and an inluential paradigm of Dada's self-legitimation.

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Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2018

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