The PhD research 'Dadaist gender play and the metaphor of the machine in wartime Europe and America (1916-1922)' will analyse the medium of performance as an ephemeral but effective strategy for Dadaist women to assure their (precarious) position in male dominated Dadaism. In their androgynous performances the mutual influence of (wo)man and the industrialized society (s)he inhabits, cannot be neglected. The main metaphor in this context is the infliction of the machine, often totally intertwined with its human creator to raise questions about subjectivity, femininity and masculinity.
This research will investigate the presence of a mechanical language in the gendered performances of three prominent Dada artists: Emmy Hennings, Sophie Taeuber and Baroness Elsa Von Freytag Lorinhoven. In doing so, the following research questions will pop up: How can gender play in Dadaism be considered as one of the most effective strategies in the well known destruction of logic and identity? How did the traumas of World War One and the birth of Modernism shape their (gendered) mechanical language? Why did these artists deliberately opt for the volatile medium of performance? How can we expand existing historical research (and the necessary feminist rewriting of history) with gender, psychological (mainly trauma) and performance studies to expose the true interdisciplinary character of Dadaism and the context it incorporated?