The day German revolutionary poet Hugo Ball made a dick of himself….






5 February 1916, the young Hugo Ball and his wife Emmy Hennings, open their Cabinet Voltaire in Zurich.

Hugo celebrates the opening dressed as an erect penis. Poets recite in onomatopoeias, and the Dada movement comes alive.




The Cabaret becomes a happy hunting ground for name-dropping bloggers: poet-painter Jean Arp is a frequent visitor, as are painter-architect Marcel Janco, dancer-painter Sophie Taeuber and writer-poet Richard Huelsenbeck.


Dada poster (c. 1923) Theo van Doesburg

Short of funds to decorate the walls, Hugo cadges paintings from chums Modigliani, Picasso, Klee and Kandinski.

Tristan Tzara joins Hugo’s merry band of assorted dissident artists on their journey to create the new world. Their weapons: autoderision, the deconstruction of language, and abracadabrantesques costumes.

Dada costumes Sonia Delaunay. Photo Man Ray. (1923)

On 28 July 1916, Hugo reads the Dada Manifesto, and by 1917 the movement has swept across Europe, leaving the Cabaret Voltaire behind.

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