Parody and Provocation: Parade and the Dada Psyche

Barker, Naomi (1996). Parody and Provocation: Parade and the Dada Psyche. Repertoire International d'Iconographie Musicale / Research Center for Musical Iconography Newsletter, 21(1) pp. 29–31.



"Parade is neither dadaist, nor cubist, nor futurist, nor of any school. Parade is Parade, that is to say a big play-thing". Contrary to his intentions, this statement made by Jean Cocteau in 1920 in an effort to distance the ballet for which he created the scenario from any attempt at classification of its style or influences, encapsulates a view of art that is essentially dadaist - that art is not to be revered but to be treated as an everyday item. It is as inconsequential as a child's plaything, and, like a toy, may mean nothing and yet everything to its audience. Cocteau's words echo Tristan Tzara's anti-art anti-aesthetic proclamation that Dada "signifies nothing" but Parade itself evokes Hugo Ball's "harlequinade made of nothingness in which all higher questions are involved".

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