`it is necessary for poetry to discard language´

Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, 1916. Wearing a cardboard costume of blue, scarlet and gold, Hugo Ball is carried to the stage in darkness. As the lights go up, the audience of Swiss bourgeoisie, artists, intellectuals, and refugees from the carnage of WWI, is silent. Ball begins a priestly incantation: ‘gadji beri bimba glandridi laula lonni cadori gadjama gramma berida bimbala glandri galassassa laulitalomini…’. The place to be, Spiegelgasse 1: simultaneous sound poems, noise music, ‘primitivist’ chants and drums, masked dancers, the absurd, the irrational, improvisation, chance, confrontation and cacophony. The lights dim. The audience responds with bewilderment and rage, and Ball disappears into the darkness. ‘It is necessary for poetry to discard language’, he writes,  ‘as painting has discarded the object’.

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