Marcel Duchamp's mustachioed Mona Lisa is just one example of the European dada movement, which channeled its disillusionment with World War I into a nihilist's art that flouted conventional aesthetics in favor of absurdity and unpredictability. The Bay Area's warm embrace of dadaism predates Defenestration, Burning Man, Circus Redickuless, and dozens of other recent shows and hijinks by at least 20 years, as demonstrated in the archival exhibit "Before 'Zines and Punk: Bay Area Dada," which documents the placement of pink stickers around the city in the "Pink Dot Caper," and segues into punk with the collage art of Winston Smith, who did the Dead Kennedys' Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables album cover. The exhibit also showcases local publishing efforts from 1970 to 1984, including the 1975 issue of Punks and a complementary collection of rare cut-and-paste-style publications like the New York Weekly Breeder. Meanwhile, the unrelated but absurdly well-timed Dada Festival 1998 showcases new work by performers including dancer Keith Hennessy and musician Jeffrey Mooney, comedian Liz White, multimedia monologuist Deke Weaver, video collaborators the Fifth Floor, composers Miguel Frasconi and Carla Milosevich, spoken-word artist Hank Hyena, and a women's tag-team wrestling group, among others. The three-night festival culminates in an exhibit of work by local artists. "Before 'Zines" runs through Sept. 12 in the Main Library's Skylight Gallery, 100 Larkin (at Market), S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4277. The Dada Festival begins Friday at 8 p.m. (also Saturday and Sunday, with the art opening Sunday at 6 p.m.) at 848 Community Space, 848 Divisadero (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $6-10; call 643-8118.
-- Heather Wisner