On September 4, 2014, I attended an exhibition on campus. It was called “Justin Quinn: Not Everything Means Something and Dada Local: The Legacy of Dada Culture in Reno,” located in the Jot Travis building, and curated by Brett Van Hoesen. It showcased several works of the artist Justin Quinn, known for using letterforms in this exhibition, and using mostly the letter “E.” The exhibition also showed works of art created by local artists that follow along the Dada art movement.
The whole point of the Dada movement was to create works of art that had literally no meaning behind them- they just merely existed to counter art that did have an abstract meaning. However, I personally see this potentially backfiring on the entire movement itself- the art does have a meaning to it because it was intended for the sole purpose of opposing something else.
With this being said, I still appreciated the works that were showcased at the exhibition. Justin Quinn used Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick as source material for his works, replacing any words with the letter “E.” While I have never read Moby Dick, nor do I have any intention of reading it in the future unless assigned by an instructor, I still liked viewing what Justin Quinn had to offer, and I felt the movement arranged by Quinn, perhaps emulating the movement and emotions from the novel. While this may be considered “Dada-esque,” as it counters the more traditional, metaphorical art that we still have today, I still was able to derive some form of meaning from it.
This is why I feel that the point of the Dada movement is moot- art has, does, and will always have a meaning to it, even if it was unintended by the creator. People will always gather some sort of meaning or reaction to any art they see, which is the entire meaning of the existence of art. I also looked at another piece at the exhibition- I do not remember the name of the piece, but it included a Hostess Twinkie and religious imagery around it. From that, I was able to get the feeling that it was criticizing the glorification of consumerism and capitalism in America. While that may have not been the intention of the artist who created the piece, I still felt that the use of such symbolic imagery led to such an opinion.