Tag Archives: dada

The Industrial Revolution [Reading Response]

“While guns rumbled in the distance, we sang, painted, made collages and wrote poems with all our might” – Hans Arp

When I first learnt about Dada when I was thirteen and just starting my study of visual art, I didn’t really know what was going on, and found the works perplexing in their blatant disregard for what I’d always thought Art should be – beautiful. I suppose that that’s what people in that time thought too. Seven years on, Dada has become my favorite movement. As Dada is particularly hard to define (its members themselves wanted to “evade the definition of a unified art movement”), and so with it, common visual characteristics are hard to pinpoint, my love for Dada comes from its ideology, not aesthetic qualities. I find it really inspiring that the artists devoted themselves to Dadaist art with such passion without losing hope after the atrocities of war, even with imminent threats.

One of the Dada artists that stir me is Hannah Hoch. She was already rare as a widely-known female artist in that time, and was aware of this and consciously “promoted the idea of women working creatively more generally in society”. She featured issues of gender and politics prominently in her work, one of which I will discuss below.

Heads of State (1918-20)

Here, Hoch uses photomontage to juxtapose newspaper photographs of primary German politicians (President Friedrich Ebert and Minister of Defense, Gustav Noske) against a floral background. Photomontage as a technique holds great meaning in this piece. “Intensely ideological”, it gave her power to cut, deform and place anywhere she wanted, these two powerful politicians who had ruthlessly put down the Spartacist Rebellion. They are juxtaposed into a kiddish, whimsical dreamscape where they stand unawares of the common German people’s hardships in their swimsuits.

Upon closer introspection, the floral background alludes to embroidery, which was the main source of income and primary occupation for the German women of that time. Brought together with substantial masculine figures (whom we are reminded aren’t altogether powerful in their more vulnerable, pot-bellied half-nakedness), the backdrop contrasts the position of women in society and questions the difference in value put upon traditionally feminine and masculine endeavours.



Lobang Galore

Prompt B: Create an A3 poster comprised of typography and image using a collage technique; consider using an element of chance. Consider how this could be related to Singaporean culture.

“Lobang”: a Singlish term originating from Malay, meaning a good deal/discount/opportunity/promotion. Singaporeans love many things: the most important (arguably) of which are 1) lobangs, 2) queuing, and 3) queuing for lobangs.

We have a treasure trove of lobangs in all the Facebook groups, threads, and telegram chats that I’m not ashamed to say I’ve joined. Lobangs, galore!

We even have an NTU Free Food lobang group! In this house, we love free food lobangs the most.

Having witnessed and partaken in this lobang culture all my life here in Singapore, it was natural for me to center my piece around this theme.


I started by gathering lobangs (in coupon form) from the newspapers, magazines, and brochures I found around the house over the course of a few days.

I then proceeded to cut individual bits up: sometimes tearing by hand, but mostly using a pair of scissors. Apart from the obviously lobang coupons, I also cut up some phrases like “sale”, “discount”, “20% off” as they alluded to lobangs as well.

The mess left behind!

I then gathered my pieces into a giant bowl, to pick randomly out of later.

Next, I had to arrange them onto the A3 paper. To do this, I threw a string onto the paper and traced where the string had landed, to arrange the pieces along the traced line.

Traced line:

Then, I mixed up the bowl and picked pieces from it with my eyes closed, to arrange along the traced line.

The result after “tracing over” the line with my randomly picked pieces!:

It looked too bare to me, so I dumped out all the pieces on the floor and filled in the background with lobang pieces I thought would fit, trying to fit them in to the best of my ability.

These were some of my favourite lobang coupons, but I didn’t manage to fit them in due to the lack of space, sadly. They’re still so pretty, though!

 The finished product! 


The lobang culture is strong in this one. In Singapore, we love good deals, discounts, promotions and free things, all of which fall under the category, “Lobangs”. My Dada poster is an ode to lobangs, with coupons and phrases relating to Lobangs that I’ve collected for myself and my family. The elements of chance came into play in two instances in my process:

  1. When I threw a piece of string down onto the paper to trace and use as a guide to arrange my initial pieces over
  2. The picking of lobangs from my giant bowl with my eyes closed, randomly

I was inspired by Dada collage artists such as John Heartfield:

Dadafox, 1919 collage by John Heartfield and George Grosz

I feel that the chaotic arrangement echoes all the lobangs around me on a daily basis – I get notifications from Facebook, Telegram, and I always scour the newspaper for them, too (I’ve gotten numerous samples from beauty counters this way). I’m pretty happy with the variety of fonts and types of lobangs (food, electronics, clothes etc) reflected here. It was a fun piece to think about and do!