Read by Lucas Battich
Music by Edward Humphrey and Ruben Marin
Performance for the closing event of the exhibition Cut and Paste: Investigating the Materiality of Information, Cooper Gallery Project Space, Dundee, 26th September.
The performance consists of the reading of ‘Karawane’, a poem written by Hugo Ball in 1916. Ball was one of the founders of Dada, and the poem was first read in the newly opened Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.
The poem is actually made of nonsense sounds, and the importance resides in its meaninglessness. It doesn’t belong to any language or even to any invented language, so there’s no notion of meaning that can be translated. You cannot translate nonsense - can you?
Now, some hundred years after Hugo Balls’ first reading, I came and took this poem from the internet, but to get there and for me to take it out, the poem went through a few changes. It did become translated somehow. The actual poem became a surface with something behind, some thing added that it didn’t have before, and something that is still language and can be read.
The version in this reading shows what becomes of a poem, even one that is nonsensical, anarchic, when we put it through the technologies that we now take for granted.
The reading is accompanied by a musical interpretation, which follows a free response from part of the musicians, together with a loose set of instructions.