Dada@Sea is one of the central projects planned for the Dada World's Fair sponsored by City Lights Bookstore, in conjunction with the San Francisco Art Institute, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the Goethe Institute SF, the MIT Press, and Swissnex as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of DADA. The Fair will be an international event featuring installations, lectures, roundtables, and performances across the San Francisco cityscape from November 3 to November 12, 2016.
Dada@Sea will be an interactive floating installation created by Linus Lancaster and Frederick Young with the assistance of art students from Healdsburg High School, University of California Merced, and the San Francisco Art Institute. The structure is comprised of floating and land-based galleries, sculptures, radio transmitters, and Wilhelm Reich’s Orgone accumulators. Its location is as virtual as it is literal. Its objective is a critique of Twenty First Century consumer culture, the Silicon Valley Tech industry, and the effects of capitalism on human and animal conditions. Throughout the course of the Dada World Fair the Dada@Sea project will host several events upon the high seas.
The installation will incorporate a radio station (from a previous installation entitled Radio Free Benjamin http://www.hauntedreflections.net/) to be built mostly with hay bales, in reference to the Bay's early sailing barges such as the Alma (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alma_(1891)). It will also function as a display space for a variety of sculptural, hand-built radios. Additionally the project will include a 16' Banks dory from the SF Maritime Museum's Boat Building Education Program (http://maritime.org/edu/youthboat.htm), which will be finished by HHS students and converted to a Dada-esque vehicle. The third component is planned as an installation on the Farallon Islands west of San Francisco, or the Marconi Marine Radio Station in Point Reyes, California.
San Francisco’s artistic and intellectual community has become occupied by the technology industry, forcing many people into economic exile. Very few artistic and intellectual holdouts can withstand the current Vichy San Francisco regime. In our places of employment, UC Merced, Healdsburg, the SF Art Institute, and City Lights Books, we do our best to smuggle in eggs, culture, and other intellectual subsistence from the cultural free zones left in the Bay Area. America is in danger of losing one of its most important pockets of resistance that has always stood up for the possibility of America heading in the direction of its originary radical democratic promise.
Without the Swiss during WWI and the asylum and freedom they provided to exiles such as Tzara and Hugo Ball, to name but a few, there would never have been DADA. Nor would DADA have become international in such cities as Paris, New York, and Berlin without the Swiss’ cosmopolitanism. As artists and intellectuals in Vichy San Francisco on the eve of the 100th anniversary of Dada, we face a war of unbounded capitalist flows of the most vulgar American cynicism in which the tanks of Nazism have been replaced by Google buses. While crucial European intellectuals such as Henri Lefebvre and Guy Debord (the Situationists) have all spoke eloquently about the violent productions of space, and how space has become increasingly political under late capitalism, their 20th century insights now seem almost nostalgic, as these critiques give a slight modicum of hope and possibility.
We believe the stakes are high. Our free-floating Dada@Sea barge has no homeland or asylum under the current conditions of Vichy San Francisco. The disaster of America loosing one of it’s historical artistic locations of resistance would have unpredictable consequences not only for art and culture in San Francisco, but for what Derrida, referring to Europe, called “Another Heading," a future that America still possesses in its intellectual centers that are becoming hollowed out. Resistance from within Empire is vital. As a direct result, Lancaster and Young officially applied for “Artistic Asylum” to the Swiss consulate in October 2015 to dock their “Dada Barge” in Swiss consulate waters.
Dada@Sea is a wet, multimodal approach to navigating through the maelstroms and blockades of late capitalist vulgarity on a breadth of registers, from the concrete, to the performative, to the liminal. Like Dada of the 20th Century, it gathers exiles and organizes resistance. Dada@Sea literally and figuratively, is floating-in-exile off the San Francisco coast, offering Dada Passports to all those artists that can no longer afford San Francisco. With Drs. Lancaster and Young at the helm, adrift, Dada@Sea presents a Quixotic defiance, barging into the dynamics of “systemic spatial violence” in contemporary hierarchies of local and global economics and culture.