Video Fix: “Dreams That Money Can Buy”

March 23, 2016 11:21 am

On March 23th, 1918, the Romanian artist Samuel Rosenstock, better known as Tristan Tzara, published a manifesto that changed the art world forever.

DADA – this is a word that throws up ideas so that they can be shot down; every bourgeois is a little playwright, who invents different subjects and who, instead of situating suitable characters on the level of his own intelligence, like chrysalises on chairs, tries to find causes or objects (according to whichever psychoanalytic method he practices) to give weight to his plot, a talking and self-defining story

Every spectator is a plotter, if he tries to explain a word (to know!) From his padded refuge of serpentine complications, he allows his instincts to be manipulated. Whence the sorrows of conjugal life.

To be plain: The amusement of redbellies in the mills of empty skulls.


DADA-09In facts, the Dada movement (it’s wrong to call it Dadaism) began in 1916 at Cabaret Voltaire, in Zurich, while the term “Anti-Art”, precursor of Dada, was coined by Marcel Duchamp when he created his first ready-mades in 1913, but the Tzara manifesto is the most precise and complete declaration of intent that could sum up the entire movement.

The Dada movement has its roots in the refusal of the war and, consequentially, of any cultural, political, social and religious belief of a society that generated that war. Dada is desecrator, ironical and provocative; in a whirlwind of inventions, distortions, reversals of meaning that transforms everything into a swirl of pure nonsense.

They didn’t confine their intervention to a single scope. Their revolutionary approach involved every kind of art: not only visual art, but even literary arts, cinema and music.

The goal of Dada is to undermine the structures of a rational and ordered society; so the main target of their “destructive” approach was, in first instance, the language – the medium by which rules and laws are created and communicated. In their optic, in fact, to disrupt words and subvert syntax represents the ultimate act of subversion.


Take a newspaper.

Take some scissors.

Choose from this paper an article of the length you want to make your poem.

Cut out the article.

Next carefully cut out each of the words that makes up this article and put them all in a bag.

Shake gently.

Next take out each cutting one after the other.

Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.

The poem will resemble you.

And there you are—an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.

—Tristan Tzara, 1920

Dadaism, as said, “touched” also cinema. One of the most prolific Dada directors and film theorists was Hans Richter. His masterpiece, and without any doubt the movie that could best express the Dada movement and its evolution on the way of surrealism, is “Dreams That Money Can Buy”, that involved in various roles many leading figures of the Dada movement such as Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, and many other exponents of the early twentieth century avant-gardes, like Alexander Calder, John Cage, and Fernand Léger.

The film tells the story of a man discovering by chance that, looking through his eyes reflected in a mirror, he can stare at the content of his mind. He decides, then, to apply this power to earn money setting up a business as a tailor-made dream creator.

The movie, enthusiastically welcomed by the critics, won the Award for the Best Original Contribution to the Progress of Cinematography at the Venice Film Festival in 1947. It’s available in its entirety on YouTube.

Written by Maurizio Fusillo
Communication Trainee at TermCoord

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