Following previous collaborations with Paul Dorn, otherwise known as St. Pauli of Dadamt, Zurich, I was happy to accept his invitation to join a gathering of what he calls Dada’s from various outposts of Europe. Together we celebrated the 20th birthday of our hosts at Kunstkellar Annaberg + the 10th birthday of Dadamt, Zurich = 30 years in total. Annaberg-Buchholz lies in the Ore Mountains or Erzgebirges, the German name in front of which Paul added an M*.
I flew to Dresden then took four trains to reach Annaberg-Buchholz, which is quite near Prague, and was met off the train by Paul and Jörg Siefert, artist, proprietor of Kunstkellar Annaberg and big fan of Dada and Kurt Schwitters. We stayed on site and were made to feel very welcome by Jörg, his family and friends. I shared the Garden House with Marseille/Berlin artist Catherine Ricoul. We were joined on site by Italian/Swiss artist Stefano Benini and of course St. Pauli – amongst many others.
Over the weekend we presented video work and an exhibition of work in the basement gallery along with a program of performances in the courtyard.
I showed the Dinner for Three documentary from Merzwomen & the Daughters of Dada exhibition, featuring Heather Ross and myself. I was interested in how this would go down with a mainly German audience familiar with New Years Eve staple, the 1963 English comedy, Dinner for One. Sure enough they laughed/groaned more knowingly than UK audiences.
On a walk around historic Annaberg, I found a roadside ‘Schwitters Store’, ie. a pile of promising-looking junk left outside a garage. Selected pieces were taken home and transformed into the third in a series of site-responsive Merz Pies. The traditional recipe is a plinth of local newspapers and a pie filling of indigenous rocks (to make explicit the socio-geographical-geological locality), all held in place by a wooden stake (Stake Pie – geddit?) This makes reference to all interested parties as collective stakeholders in Schwitters’ legacy of MERZ. On this occasion the recipe was adapted to accommodate the items from the Schwitters Store. The pastry was oven baked in the usual way then assembled with the red handled pump holding the assemblage in place and towering above the pie.
I collaged vinyl adhesives required for assembling ‘Firework Skins’ in advance of the Firework Display that I had originally proposed. All ideas and materials are portable, expandable and considered in respect of being fit for the purpose of making art on the move. On arrival, long and large modelling balloons were fitted up with the collages – ‘Firework Skins’ are so called due to the build-up of anticipation they create amongst the audience and the visual spectacle following the loud bang and the crackling sound of the adhesive vinyl pulling away from the balloon. What remains after much buckling and squirming are a variety of forms similar to the shedded skin of a snake.
These were detonated as the Grand Finale to a spoken word performance which was also prepared in advance:
Time, Manners, Place
Danke schön für die Einladung von Jörg, und danke schön Pauli für diese wunderbare Merzgebirge. Happy zwanzigsten Geburtstag zu Kunstkeller Annaberg und Happy zehnten Geburtstag zu Dadamt Zürich. Ich bin eine Freundin von Pauli. Vor zwei Jahren habe ich ihn kennengelernt. Wir haben eine Aufführung zusammen mit unseren englischen Freunden Alice und James sin Zürich gemacht. Das war in zweitausendsechszehn für den hunderten Geburtstag von Dada.
Soll ich meine Arbeit vorstellen? [POP BALLON!!]
Hier haben wir die Feuerwerkshäuter. [POP BALLON!!]
Ich habe den Vinyl am Ballon angeklebt. [POP BALLON!!]
Und dann habe ich den Ballon sofort geplatzt. [POP BALLON!!]
Ich habe auch dieses Vinylkleid für Merzwomen & the Daughters of Dada in März gemacht. [POP BALLON!!]
Meine Kinder haben mich in Klarsichtfilm gewickelt und dann haben wir den Vinyl um das Klarsichtfilm angeklebt, um das Kleid fertig zu machen. [POP BALLON!!]
Thank you. I wanted a speech in German to make, but because my German not so good yet is, decided my German teacher Sarah and I, a speech in English with German word order, to write. I am very happy, and it pleases me, here with you to be.
I am very lucky, until March 2020 Kurt Schwitters at University of Cumbria Institute of the Arts, to be studying. I am studying Schwitters now since two years. I make art and show it, read and write about it and am even paid for it, which at the moment very unusual in Conservative Britain is.
Recently have I the Glossary of German and English words from the Kurt Schwitters Catalogue Raisonné studied, which by the Sprengel Museum in Hannover produced was. From the three volumes of his visual art works, have I compiled the following poem which an impression of Schwitters from the A-Z of key words gives:
Abbildung abgerissen, abgesägt abklatsch
Abrieb von Durchschlagpapier, Absetzsohle abstrakte
Skulptur Achteckbild Adresse
Ansicht Aquarell Architekturmodell
Archiv Archivkarte Assemblage, auf,
Aufkleber unter obigem
Aufkleber auf dem Kopf
stehend. Auf der Seite liegend.
aufgrund Aufkleber Auflage
Aufschrift ausgefüllt. Ausgestellt
Ausschnitt Außerhalb Außer
Please do correct me if I’m wrong.
The post-detonation remains of the Firework Skins were then added to the Annaberg Merz Pie in the exhibition along with the dress worn for the performance. In the same room was work by Catherine Ricoul, Stefano Benini and St. Pauli.
Interestingly, the basement was used as a prison in the 1950’s and the gallery room next door had original prison graffiti visible on the walls: