his remark after witnessing the invasion of Belgium by the German armies, in the start of World War 1. in 1914
Our cabaret 'Cabaret Voltaire' is a gesture.. .Every word that is spoken and sung here says at least this one thing: that this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect.
his diary entry, 1916; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 3
We were all there when Janco arrived with his masks, and everyone immediately put one on. Then something strange happened. Not only did the mask immediately call for a costume; it also demanded a quite definite, passionate gesture, bordering on madness. Although we could not have imagined it five minutes earlier we were walking around with most bizarre movements, festooned and draped with impossible objects, each one of us trying to outdo the other in inventiveness.. .What fascinated us all about the masks is that they represent not human characters and passions, but.. ..passions that are larger than life. The horror of our time [World War 1., a. o.], the paralyzing background of events, is made visible.
his diary entry, 24 May 1916; as quoted in Looking at Dada, eds. Sarah Ganz Blythe & Edward D. Powers - The Museum of Modern Art New York, ISBN: 087070-705-1; p. 4
I have invented [c. 1915-1916] a new series of verses, verses without words, or sound poems, in which the balancing of the vowels is gauged and distributed according to the value of the initial line.. ..With these sound poems we should renounce language, devastated and made impossible by journalism. We should withdraw into the innermost alchemy of the word, and even surrender the word, thus conserving for poetry its most sacred domain. We should refuse to make poems second-hand; we should stop taking over words (not to mention sentences) which we did not invent entirely anew for our own use. We should no longer be content to achieve poetic effects which, in the final analysis, are but echoes of inspiration...
In these phonetic poems we the Dadaist artists totally renounce the language that journalism has abused and corrupted. We must return to the innermost alchemy of the word, we must even give up the word too, to keep for poetry its last and holiest refuge.
as quoted by Steve McCaffery, in The Darkness of the Present: Poetics, Anachronism, and the Anomaly; publ. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2012, p. 16
I have examined myself carefully. I could never bid chaos welcome, blow up bridges, and do away with ideas. I am not an anarchist.
as quoted in his dairy on Dada Flight out of Time, in 'Introduction', University of California Press (1996)
It is true that for us art is not an end in itself, we have lost too many of our illusions for that. Art is for us an occasion for social criticism, and for real understanding of the age we live in.. .Dada was not a school of artists, but an alarm signal against declining values, routine and speculations, a desperate appeal, on behalf of all forms of art, for a creative basis on which to build a new and universal consciousness of art.
Richard Kostelanetz and Joseph Darby (eds.) Classic Essays on Twentieth-Century Music (New York: Schirmer, 1996) ISBN 0028645812
from the 'Dada Manifesto', 1916 by Hugo Balls, which he read at the first public by Dada soirée, Zurich, July 14, 1916 in w:Cabaret Voltaire, taken from Wikisource
Dada is a new tendency in art. One can tell this from the fact that until now nobody knew anything about it, and tomorrow everyone in Zurich will be talking about it. Dada comes from the dictionary. It is terribly simple. In French it means 'hobby horse'. In German it means 'good-bye', 'Get off my back', 'Be seeing you sometime'. In Romanian: 'Yes, indeed, you are right, that's it. But of course, yes, definitely, right'. And so forth.
An International word. Just a word, and the word a movement. Very easy to understand. Quite terribly simple. To make of it an artistic tendency must mean that one is anticipating complications. Dada psychology, dada Germany cum indigestion and fog paroxysm, dada literature, dada bourgeoisie, and yourselves, honoured poets.. .Dada world war without end, dada revolution without beginning, dada, you friends and also—poets, esteemed sirs, manufacturers, and evangelists. Dada Tzara, dada Huelsenbeck, dada m'dada, dada m'dada dada mhm, dada dera dada, dada Hue, dada Tza.
How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada. How does one become famous? By saying dada. With a noble gesture and delicate propriety. Till one goes crazy. Till one loses consciousness. How can one get rid of everything that smacks of journalism, worms, everything nice and right, blinkered, moralistic, europeanised, enervated? By saying dada...
I shall be reading poems that are meant to dispense with conventional language, no less, and to have done with it. Dada Johann Fuchsgang Goethe. Dada Stendhal. Dada Dalai Lama, Buddha, Bible, and Nietzsche. Dada m'dada. Dada mhm dada da. It's a question of connections, and of loosening them up a bit to start with. I don't want words that other people have invented...
It will serve to show how articulated language comes into being. I let the vowels fool around. I let the vowels quite simply occur, as a cat meows . . . Words emerge, shoulders of words, legs, arms, hands of words. Au, oi, uh. One shouldn't let too many words out. A line of poetry is a chance to get rid of all the filth that clings to this accursed language.. .Dada is the heart of words.
Each thing has its word, but the word has become a thing by itself. Why shouldn't I find it? Why can't a tree be called Pluplusch, and Pluplubasch when it has been raining? The word, the word, the word outside your domain, your stuffiness, this laughable impotence, your stupendous smugness.. .The word, gentlemen, is a public concern of the first importance.