The works we’re sharing this week are quintessential examples of Dada art—or rather, Dada anti-art—and are studied by scholars across many disciplines, from architecture and animation to linguistics and painting. They are among the Department of Film’s earliest acquisitions, and form the basis of one core component of our collection—experimental avant-garde film. The artists who made these films worked primarily in other mediums (or at least got their start there), but saw possibilities of film as art form. Dadaists also prized collaboration, and what artform is more inherently collaborative than movie making? They valued subversion too, and no medium is better at a take down than film either.

In this trio of shorts, the filmmakers turn the conventions of cinema upside down (sometimes by literally turning the camera upside down), and imbuing each scene with versatility, ingenuity, and revolutionary antiness. While these films are textbook examples of their forms, they are also highly adaptable, so it’s no wonder that all three were featured in MoMA’s 2019 reopening programming, both in the galleries (508 and 519) and in the theaters. As challenging as they are amusing, these absurdist works feel as innovative today as they did nearly a century ago.

Watch this week’s films:

Rhythmus 21 (1921)

Ballet mécanique (1924)

Anémic cinéma (1926)

Learn more at Virtual Views: Film Vault Summer Camp…

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The comments and opinions expressed in this video are those of the speaker alone, and do not represent the views of The Museum of Modern Art, its personnel, or any artist. 

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