Drink up and Have Another. Fags all Round

Where Dada meets Health and Safety

Dadaists on a visit to the outbuildings of St Julien on 14th April 1921

A number of countries have passed laws which require cigarette manufacturers to show ‘denormalising’ images on their packaging. This looks like a job for Dadaists.

The Dadaists set up mock guided tours around Paris in 1921. Only one came to pass. That was a visit to the outbuildings of St Julien on 14th April 1921. But surely the Dadaists could make ‘denormalising’ images to dissuade smokers from their self-destructive ways.

However, the Dadaists, in their own sweet way, are moralists. Moralists, moreover, in a way that precludes their obedience to the standardization of morals and the adoption of anything quite so  bourgeois as health and safety.

Whilst there seems scope for Dadaism and its ‘denormalizing’ ways of making images, it strikes me as antithetical to their way of life.

Smoking and drinking are ways of refusing health and safety. And the Dadaists are a reckless crew.

In the spring of 1953, a group of friends set out to attend an opening in the bohemian Paris neighbourhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The reception was being held at À l’Étoile scellée, a gallery recently opened at 11 rue Pré-aux-clercs, where the director, André Breton, exhibited the work of first generation Surrealist painters such as Max Ernst, as well as a younger generation of artists who had attached themselves to the movement in its twilight years. The friends, however, would never see the work on display that evening. Their walk to the gallery did not end with complimentary glasses of wine and fancy small talk in front of strange, precious canvases but with repartee of an entirely different order, the kind made when one is brought into the local police station for drunken misconduct. They turned what should have been a brief dash into a marauding asdventure with visits to some two dozen bars, where they became progressively drunker and drunker thanks to the Legros cocktails – a noxious concoction of pastis and rum – they consumed at every stop.

Landing in jail that night probably did not surprise the friends, though it might have occurred earlier in the evening and for slightly different reasons than expected – they’d set out on their excursion with the intention of disrupting the opening. (Waxman, 2017)

Perhaps we should look not to Dadaists for imagery. Rather to Dadaism. The difference is that many things are Dada without requiring a signed up member of the Dadaists as their author.

In fact, need we not look further than the Health and Safety Executive to capture the spirit of Dadism.

More drinking! More smoking!

References: Lori Waxman, Keep Walking Intently, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2017, p. 85

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Cigarettes That Are Visually Offputting (research study)

April 27th, 2018

A number of countries have passed laws which require cigarette manufacturers to show ‘denormalising’ images on their packaging. To take things a step further, why not make the cigarettes themselves more unappealing? This was the question tackled by a joint Australian – New Zealand research team in 2015.

A set of potentially unpleasant cigarette designs were experimentally tested – of which the most effectively off-putting was found to be this one :

“The stick featuring the ‘minutes of life lost’ graphic was markedly less appealing and less likely to be chosen than all other sticks tested. “

See: ‘Dissuasive cigarette sticks: the next step in standardised (‘plain’) packaging?’ in Tobacco Control, Volume 25, Issue 6.

Bonus Assignment [optional] What other graphic graphic devices on cigarettes might help dissuade smokers from lighting up?

Also see : ‘How much life does a sausage cost you’ – from the BBC’s Tomorrows World.

And : News of a new study from The Lancet – “each unit [of alcohol] above guidelines is taking, on average, about 15 minutes of life, about the same as a cigarette.”

    

Edward Winters
About Edward Winters 41 Articles
Ed studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art and later wrote his PhD in Philosophy at UCL. He has written extensively on the visual arts and is presently writing a book on everyday aesthetics. He taught at University of Westminster and at University of Kent and he continues to make art.

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