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Hannah Höch Exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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A Collage of New Women

Dadaism was an avante-garde art movement that began around 1915 as a response to World War One. The radically Leftist group were anti-war, anti-bougeois, and to an extent, anti-art as well. By this, I don't mean they were against art, but rather against the standards that European countries set. Dadaists rejected reason and logic for more obscure forms of art, highlighting the obscure, nonsensical, and irrational.

Although on the surface Dadaists seemed like open-minded activists deviating from the norm, in many ways they were still as stuck in the mud as the conformists they were opposing. Why? Although they made out to support women, they were actually very reluctant to allow female members into their group. In fact, the only female Dadaist was Hannah Höch, who only got in because she was involved with Raoul Hausmann, key figure in the Berlin Dada movement. As a result, much of Höch's work centres around this hypocritical attitude.

Hannah Höch studied various forms of art both before and after the First World War, and became a member of the Dadaist movement in 1919. Along with Hausmann, she became one of the first pioneers in the form of photo-montage. It was not only the style that caused a buzz, but also her subject matter. Taking cuttings from magazines, newspapers, and other forms of media, Höch pieced these images together to create androgynous characters: masculine women, bisexual relationships, etc. This was done by pasting both male and female body parts together, which are both beautiful and grotesque at the same time.

A lot of Höch's work has been overlooked in favour of more famous Dadaist artists, which is obvious by the fact that her work has been little seen outside of her own country. That is soon to be rectified, however, because from the 15th January - 23rd March Whitechapel gallery will be holding the first ever UK exhibition of her work. Tickets are £9.95 0r £7.95 concessions, and features over a hundred works across her sixty-year career.

As well as feminist pieces, Höch's photo-montages include High Finance (1923), which is a critique on the relationship between bankers and the army during Europe's economic crisis. This is a collage that is very relatable today, because ninety years later, we are back in a similar situation.

Alongside the exhibition will be films and talks. For example, Delirium, Desire, Danger: Dada! is a satirical commentary and critique on the economy, while guided gallery tours will provide extra insight into Höch's art.
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Why? Fun for art lovers
When: 15th Jan - 23rd March
Phone: 44 (0)20 7522 7888
Where: Whitechapel Gallery
Cost: £9.95 adult, £7.95 concession
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