Hugo Ball, German, 1886 - 1927 Karawane 1917; published 1920 Ink on paper Erich Reiss Verlag Source: Dada Almanach. Berlin: Erich Reiss Verlag

Hugo Ball, German, 1886 - 1927

Karawane

1917; published 1920
Ink on paper
Erich Reiss Verlag
Source: Dada Almanach. Berlin: Erich Reiss Verlag

Karawane

Karawane is a poem by Hugo Ball, originally performed in the Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich in 1916. The printed version was later published in the Dada Almanach, as Ball´s performance can be seen as one of the key moments in the development of Dada. The artist comes from a literature and theater background and reinvented language without meaning or grammar, also known as Lautsprache. During his performance he was dressed in a paper costume, resembling a clerical member. His recitation of the poem on stage lead to a trance like state of his mind, with the audience captivated. At the end he had to be carried of stage, due to exhaustion, with the audience climbing up on it.

The typeface and text design of the printed version of Karawane underline these features of chaos and anarchy. Ball´s design is simple, easy to reproduced and clear to read, while still creating a disharmony due to the seemingly random chosen typefaces. The design also closely resembles the visual qualities of a pamphlet, due to its suppleness, indicating an easy reproduction and distribution.

 

Robert Macfarlane and Stephen Whittington performing Karawane, a setting of the Dada poem by Hugo Ball. An 'anti-song-cycle' of 17 songs in 2 minutes. Music by Stephen Whittington. Live performance, 2012.