Within the frame of school of Dada, Cabaret Voltaire compiled Dada Adventure Theme Trails, which in essence compliment the guided tour program with their publications, the Dada City Map and the Dada Hand Book, which are all part of Cabaret Voltaire’s Art Education program.

Including four different Dada Adventure Themed trails, the idea is to convey the historical context of Dada as well as the Dadaist dimensions with the help of practical tasks in a variety of situations in the city of Zurich. Students are invited to explore Dadaist actions, their context and concerns and will be encouraged to voice their thoughts by relating the theme to our modern days.

Four Dada Adventure Trails will have their starting point at Cabaret Voltaire and lead to various Dada places within the City of Zurich. Each trail will follow a theme, such as; language exploration, provocations on stage, political propaganda, as well as the readymade and the self-promotion.

Teachers will discuss their chosen topic theme in class with their students and will lead the class through the Dada Adventure Theme Trail and complete the respective tasks. The information packs are designed as a guide. Depending on the trails’ specific focus, teachers are free to put an emphasis on the topic’s essential content or to focus on the practical tasks.

The bespoke Dada-Adventure-Theme-Trails and their teaching material can also be used by students independently without prior knowledge of the theme.

Ready to go
Teaching material for the Dada-Adventure-Theme-Trail can be downloaded free of charge.

Age group
Sek II (from 16 years)

We would be delighted to hear from teachers and students alike, to learn, see and read about your experiences on the Dada-Adventure-Theme-Trail. Write us!

Thank you
The «School of Dada» was made possible thanks to the generous support of Foundation USM and Else von Sick Stiftung.

The Dadaist Dimensions

The Dadaist Dimensions is a comprehensive core text on Dada. The document includes citations and serves as a means to auxiliary literature. These pages are meant to further an understanding of the historical context of Dada and are meant as a theoretical background to explore the potential Dada movement suggests in our contemporary world. This document is meant as a point of departure for further studies of the theme Dada and serves as backup material to the four Dada-Adventure-Theme-Trails.

Readymade – «I am Art», Self-promotion

«How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying Dada. How does one attain fame? By saying Dada…..» (Hugo Ball). As Dada does not convey a meaning, it signifies life! The elixirs of life of the Dadaists are paradoxes, self-glorification and the pose. They puzzle with pseudonyms: which role does Samuel Rosenstock take on and which artist signs his works with “R. Mutt”? What drives the «Dada-Baroness» to declare her persona a «Gesamtkunstwerk»? Are Tristan Tzara, Hans Arp and Hans Richter’s poses in front of Hotel Elite inspired by Laban’s Body-Space-Theories? They bluff with the publication of false announcements: What is the reaction in 1918 in Zurich after the announcement of a gunfight with firearms between Arp and Tzara at Rehalp, where at the same time Sophie Taeuber’s marionette “Freudanalytikus” gets transformed into a stag. We explore the techniques of bluff, the pose and self-promotion.

Speech Acts!

During the mayhem of the First World War, «Switzerland is a bird’s cage, surrounded by roaring lions» (Hugo Ball). Zurich becomes the hub of emigrants, intellectuals, revolutionaries, artists and spies. On the 5th of February 1916 “artist hangout Voltaire” later «Cabaret Voltaire» opens at Spiegelgasse 1.

We manifest, gesticulate, talk without language and follow the traces of the first Dadaists: Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Hans Arp, Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Richard Huelsenbeck. Their intention: a protest against the rationale of the empirical world of science, to reclaim the magic into our world and an attempt to dismiss the reprobate language of political propaganda. Their strategies: nonsense and simultaneous poetry, manifestos and publications, music, masks and dance. Privileged by Neurasthenia and Dementia praecox – their hallmark is cacophony – hence Dada is expanding across the world.

Provocation on Stage

From 1914 onwards Literary Cabarets and exotic Variété Theatres, exhilarate Zurich, the city of Zwingli. The venues are named «Bonbonnière» or «Pantagurel». At Varieté Maxim at Hirschenplatz, Emmy Hennings and Hugo Ball perform with contortion artists, fire breathers and tightrope walking artists. At the time of the general strike, movie theatres and coffee houses entice the masses – as an example Café Odeon became a meeting point of exile intellectuals, the style of the setting can be described as Viennese and the general public as cosmopolitan.

We listen to anecdotes and try to spot Hugo Balls war medals which he discarded in the lake by Bürkliplatz. Further we explore why the last Dada-Soirée in April 1919, at «Kaufleuten», had to end in turmoil in order to keep Dada alive. Also we ask how theatre stages at the time managed to shock so profoundly and ask which stages are available to the public today to provoke.

Political Propaganda

Is it true that Lenin paid a visit to Cabaret Voltaire? We know for sure, from his home at Spiegelgasse 14, the Russian revolutionary left his finger prints at the Niederdorf, namely in the libraries, with the «Schwänlianern» or at the labor union «Eintracht”. We investigate the common denominators and the differences of an aesthetic and material revolution. We scrutinize the locations of the revolt and explore what we can find under the secret code «Kegelklub».

The Dadaists distribute speculations, as for instance when Tristan Tzara invents the word «Dada», whilst Hans Arp juggles a Brioche in his left nostril. Inspired by the use of commercial advertisement, they ridicule propaganda and publish their views with the help of collages of words and signs without censorship.