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Gang Roundup – June 2019

Well, yes, I’m still stocking on the AtoZ Challenge research. Here are the best links I found about the Dada movement.
I really enjoyed researching Dada as a social phenomenon and it isn’t the first time either that I enjoy researching artistic movements of the beginning of the XX century. So I thought: would you guys be interested in a series of blogs devoted to the Vanguard Movements of the 1900s?

I’m asking because I know art is always a particular subject and I’m not even sure I could cover the matter in an adequate manner if I followed the artistic aspect of it. But then, what interests me is rather the social side: from where did these movements arise, how did they express what people felt at that time, why did they use that particular language, what did it mean, what were they protesting against – since it looks like the 1900s Vanguards were mostly protest movements.

What do you think? Would that be something you’d enjoy reading about?

Let me know, and I’ll act in accord.

The Dada movement, formed in Zurich 1916, was a reaction to World War I, its anarchic iconoclasm appealing to the artists George Grosz, Kurt Schwitters, Max Ernst and John Heartfield who organized the First International Dada Fair in Berlin in 1920

The Dada Movement – Berlin, Cologne, Hanover, Holland

This article is a comprehensive introduction to Dada. There’s information about the history of the movement and about the main artists and yes, information is very scant, but the article is chocked full of links to more article. It’s a great place to become familiar with Dadaism.
There are also many interesting pictures that give a fair idea of what Dada was about.

In 1916, when the First World War already took the lifes of countless soldiers, a disreputable art movement with an international character developed in Zürich: DadaDadaism in Berlin. The radical opponents of the establishment and their (un)organised contradictions.

This looks more in specific to the history of Dada, with a special look at its life in Berlin.
Dada was born in Zurich as a reaction to the destruction of WWI. Many of the first members of the movement were veterans, dismissed from the battlefields (it was still 1916) in most cases for health issues. The character of the movement in this incarnation was above all of opposition to everything traditional. It was against everything from the past.
When Dada reached Berlin, it took up a more definite political stance. Although the Weimar Republic was a new institution, Dadaists were for the most part against it, as they saw it as the betrayal of the German people.
As many other Vanguards of those years, Dadaism was fiercely opposed by the rising Nazi power and finally ceased its existence when the Nazis took over Germany.. 

10 Female Dadaists You Should Know

Emmy Hennings (born Emma Maria Cordsen, 17 January 1885 – 10 August 1948) was a performer and poet. She was also the wife of celebrated Dadaist Hugo Ball.
Emmy Henning

The 1900s Vanguards – and Dada amongst them – are often seen as predominantly male movements. And in large part this is true, be it because most of them were created and animated by WWI veterans or because there was a true misogynistic feeling to it (women were gaining space and freedom in post WWI Germany and this created a lot of uncertainty and fear in a lot of people). Still there were many female artists who in many cases brought a very personal, very alternative look at whatever movement they were part of.
This article looks in particular to the women of Dada… and there were quite a few of them.

A fixture at Zurich nightclub the Cabaret Voltaire (co-founded by her husband, leading Dadaist Hugo Ball) and the Galerie Dada — where she sang, recited her written works, danced, and performed with puppets — Emmy Hennings was publishing poetry in anarchist publications well before the days of Dada. 

The Hands of Orlac (1924) In this traumatic body-horror tale, a concert pianist called Paul Orlac is given a hand transplant after he is caught in a train accident. The revelation that his new hands once belonged to a killer called Vasseur destroys his life. One of the best German expressionist films
The Hands of Orlac (1924)

10 great German Expressionist films

Like most vanguards, Expressionism (which partly falls into the 1900s Avant Gardes) took up a questioning stance towards reality. It tried to understand life by dissecting and deforming it, by searching for a darker side to oppose to the light.
In no medium it was more effective than in cinema, where it also had it’s more lasting influence (in fact, German Expressionism is still used in cinema today).
This is a collection of some of the most interesting expressionist films produced in Germany during the silent era. Essential, but very interesting info not just about the films, but about the actors and the directors as well. A good place to start getting familiar with the genre.

SHORT BOMBER - The aircraft that never received an official name. The Short Bomber was designed by the Short Brothers in 1915. It consisted of a two man crew: a pilot and an observer, who operated a free-firing Lewis gun.
Short Bomber 1915

18 Key Bomber Aircraft From World War One

It is maybe easy to think at aerial warfare in WWI as a side matter, practiced by few, bold aces that became famous… usually when they spectacularly died. But the air force of WWI was in fact one of the areas where more advancement were done during those years. Essential, ‘primitive’ as these early aircrafts may seem to us, they were in fact jewels of technology at the time.
This is a collection presenting the most important of them, ranging from the first years of the 1900s to the end of WWI.

Angels in the Trenches, by Leo Ruickbie

The matter of the believe in the supernatural which became quite common during WWI, whether it happened in the trenches or on the home front, is a particularly fascinating subject. WWI was a watershed for so many aspect of life. It happened in a moment when the old ways were still alive, though fading, and the new ways were only just looming on the Western society. The two merged in ways that never happened before or after.
In a time where science was advancing at speed and where invisible things were proven to have an effect on people life (like radio waves or radioactivity) even scientists believed that a connection with the dead might be possible. For a few years, fuelled by the terrible loss so many families suffered, these ‘invisible entities’ that science was exploring opened the minds to possibilities that today we consider unscientific.
Although this article is a review of a book, it enters into interesting discourses that give in themselves an idea of how people lived the supernatural during WWI.

A GENTLEMAN'S MURDER (Christopher Huang) The year is 1924, and Lieutenant Eric Peterkin, formerly of the Royal Fusiliers, is a new member of the Britannia―London’s most prestigious club. It's a family tradition, but an honor he's not sure he quite deserves. So, when a gentleman's wager ends with one man dead in the vault under the club, Eric is only too ready to tackle the mystery head on.A Gentleman’s Murder by Christopher Huang

The year is 1924, and Lieutenant Eric Peterkin, formerly of the Royal Fusiliers, is a new member of the Britannia―London’s most prestigious club. It’s a family tradition, but an honor he’s not sure he quite deserves. So, when a gentleman’s wager ends with one man dead in the vault under the club, Eric is only too ready to tackle the mystery head on.

Eric’s quest to resolve the murder quickly becomes an investigation of a mysterious wartime disappearance. It draws him far from the marbled halls of the Brittania, to the shadowy remains of a dilapidated war hospital to the heroin dens of Limehouse. Eric faces a Matryoshka doll of murder, vice, and secrets pointing not only to the officers of his own club but the very investigator assigned by Scotland Yard.

Threatened with expulsion and dogged by the racist shadows of the Great War, Eric presses on nonetheless. But can he snare the killer before his own membership becomes a thing of yesterday?

Milan in the 1920s

In past Gang Roundups I’ve featured a few different cities in the 1920s, so I thought it was only right to come to Italy at last. Plus… see my stuff below.

I love vintage pictures, but I’ll admit that I love the fact that the era I’m interested about already offered recordings and videos. It’s like stepping into the past.

Sarah plugs her own stuff

What is Sarah doing these days?
Sadly, not much. I’ve been struggling with my new working hours. The idea had been floating around for a long time, and last month my bosses have finally decided to switch my and my workmate’s timetables, so after working the late shift for fifteen years, I’m now working the early – well, most of the time.
I knew it was going to be hard to get accustomed to this new working hours, but I didn’t think it was going to be this hard. Basically, I need to reprogram my entire biorhythms and boy is it difficult! I feel confused and dejected most of the time and I’m finding really hard to concentrate on anything.

But! Show must go on!
So I am working on something anyway. I’m revising Sea Phantom, the short story set in Milan that I wrote last year, and I hope soon I’ll have it ready to be offered for free to all subscribers to my newsletter.
Because the story is set here in Italy, I’ve decided to do something that I haven’t done for a decade: write it in Italian.
You have no idea!!!!!
I decided many years ago that I would best serve my stories by writing them in English, because the Italian literary market isn’t very receptive of fantasy, less so Dieselpunk. So, about fifteen years ago, I started translating my stories into English and in 2007 I shifted over the English completely.
I have never regretted it, mind you, but recently I considered picking my native language back up. There are a few young bands here in Italy that sing both in Italian and English, and I really like this attitude. So, having written a story set in Milan, I thought that was the perfect occasion to get back to Italian.
It was shocking! I really write very little in Italian, mostly texts to family and friends. I do most of my writing in English (fiction, blogs, social media), and when I started translating the beginning of Sea Phantom I felt everything sounded totally wrong. Words failed me. The rhythm of the story felt off. I texted all my friends crying, ‘I can’t do this! I’m not able anymore!!!’ I was desperate.
But then, slowly, I got back into the rhythm of it – thankfully! I’m almost done now and I feel quite comfortable writing Italian. It was so very awkward to feel I can’t write fiction in my own language!
At the moment I’m translating the English version, but then I think I’ll revise the Italian version as its own story.
I’m happy to do this. Let’s go how it goes.

At the end of this week I’ll be off to Venice for almost one week. I have a feeling you’ll soon know a lot about that too.

GANG ROUNDUP (June 2019) Dada was an artistic Avant Garde of the interwar years in Germany, one that, as many other similar artistic muvements, questioned the times and values of those years.


  • Roland R Clarke
    Posted June 7, 2019 at 04:39

    Invaluable links, Sarah. Thanks.

  • Kristin
    Posted June 9, 2019 at 04:30

    Interesting links and like an extension of a to z. I would be interested in the series you propose.
    And congrats on writing in Italian!!

    • Post Author
      Posted June 9, 2019 at 08:02

      LOL! Yes, it is an extention of the AtoZ!
      I’m still toying with the idea of the Avant Garde series. It’s proving more complicated than I thought, but I’m so very intrigued.

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