Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction

Figure thought to be Sophie Taeuber dancing at the opening of the Galerie Dada, Zurich

Photographer unknown. Figure thought to be Sophie Taeuber dancing at the opening of the Galerie Dada, Zurich. 1917 364

Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin

Amah-Rose Abrams: I love this photograph of what we believe is Sophie Taeuber dancing in Zurich at the opening of Galerie Dada in 1917.

I’m Amah-Rose Abrams. I'm an art writer and journalist.

We can't see her face. She's wearing a huge mask, and she's wearing just the most wonderful dress. It's radical, it's fun, it's beautifully put together. So I think it sums up elements of her as a person. She had that kind of bravery and confidence to jump on a stage.

Hugo Ball (read by actor): She danced the Song of Flying Fish and Seahorses,. . . . Every gesture is . . . sharp, light, pointed. . . . Her dance formations are … grotesque and enchanted.

Anne Umland: Those were the words of poet Hugo Ball describing Taeuber-Arp dance. Ball wrote the sound poem that we just listened to, and it’s believed to be the one that Sophie Taeuber-Arp danced to. Ball was also one of the founders of the Dada movement.

Amah-Rose Abrams: It was very anarchic, anti-rules, anti-establishment, left wing, and it was very much a reaction to what was happening in Europe at that time. This is during the First World War.

Anne Umland: There are descriptions of raucous performances, of poems that were comprised of nothing but syllables, of dances that made no sense. Just imagine what it must've been like to move in that costume.

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