Friday, December 22, 2017

Dada in da house

Christmas card 2017, Kodakotype by Pants

Christmas is very different this year, with Ma Pants gone. Sis Pants and I have decided to spend one more Christmas in her house before we sell it. I have been here a couple of weeks. Sorting through stuff. Finding gems. Including a couple of drawings of Ma Pants's. She did a great deal more buying of art supplies than she did making of art. I am the beneficiary of that quirk. I will now not have to buy brushes or charcoal ever again.

The drawings I am glad to have. I've got art on my walls made by Sis Pants, Niece Pants and Grandpa Pants. I will frame the drawings and the family collection will be complete. Perhaps I'll put them near this portrait I made of Ma Pants.

Ma Pants (acrylic on canvas, 2009)

I've been thinking a lot about the Dadaists and, in particular, Kurt Schwitters and His Merzbau. I would like my house to be a kind of Merzbau, except still function fairly well as a house. I don't like clutter. I do like arrangement.

Merz is a nonsense word. It has no inherent meaning. Unless you count its role as the brand-name of a pharmaceutical company. For me, merz is/are objects that should be valued merely because they exist in the world. Schwitters was a great collector of junk. I don't go out of my way to acquire flotsam but, if it comes into my sphere, I do try to find a purpose for it. And that purpose may be simply to sit. To define itself in the particular place I've chosen for it.

When Marcel Duchamp was asked the question, 'what is art?' he replied, 'what isn't?' I'm well satisfied with that categorisation. Schwitters himself said, 'merz stands for freedom from all fetters, for the sake of artistic creation.' I've a notion to totally immerse in merz for the foreseeable future.

Our family is full of people who make things. From Ma Pants's house, I'm taking items made by my grandmother, grandfather and great-grandmother, and herself, of course. Some jewellery, practical items and everyday objects from childhood that will trigger memories. I tend not to have photographs on display at Pantsbau. They're too literal. Not at all Dada. Faces nestling in collage is about as close as I come.

Dada as a movement arose in response to the madness of war over a hundred years ago. I feel the need for some Dada now. An alternative universe in place of alternative facts. Why not abandon idiocy for eccentricity? Fun, not pain. And what better time to do it than at Christmas? Let me hear you go Dada and have a Happy New Year while you're about it.