Is Lady Gaga the face of 21st-century Dada?

Curators of centenary exhibition on the movement want to baptise the pop star in a pool


As Zurich celebrates the centenary of the birth of the “anti-art” movement in the Swiss city, a sprawling exhibition at the Cabaret Voltaire asks what Dada looks like in the 21st century—and Lady Gaga is one potential answer.

“We have extended an open invitation to Gaga” to be blessed in a “Holy Catholic Mass”, says Adrian Notz, the director of Cabaret Voltaire. Should the pop star affirm her commitment to Dada, Notz will baptise her in a nearby pool. “She can finally become art,” he says. But whether or not he succeeds, there will be more than enough Dadaist spectacle at the exhibition Obsession Dada (5 February-18 July).

Co-organised by Notz and the artist Una Szeemann, the show will include a rotating cast of performers, such as Thomas Hirschhorn and Carlos Amorales. Several dozen other artists have sent “intentions” in the form of drawings, manifestos or anything else that fits onto a letter-sized sheet of paper, which the organisers are photocopying and leaving out for visitors to take. Around 900 documents from the Getty Research Institute’s archives in Los Angeles on Szeemann’s father—the late curator Harald Szeemann, who brought a revolutionary spirit to the art world in the 1960s—will also be on show. “I think we have a pretty ugly ground to stand on right now, so why not revolt?” Una Szeemann asks. “And, of course, we want to destroy Isis through Dada,” Notz adds.