In 2016, Pascal Zoghbi was invited by the Station Beirut art centre to participate in its Yala Dada project and exhibition. He was asked to recreate Hugo Ball’s poem, ‘Karawane’ in Arabic. Reviving the typographic treatment of the original poem, each verse was set in a different font to echo the different vocalizations. This poster is a reinterpretation of the art piece created for the exhibition, typeset with a selection of typefaces from the 29LT fonts catalogue, including both Arabic and Latin scripts. The number preceding each verse in the poem refers to a typeface that is present in the typographic grid on the reverse of the poster.
‘Karawane’ is a poem by Hugo Ball, a German author, poet, and one of the leading Dadaists. It was originally performed in the Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich in 1916; the same year the Dada Manifesto was written and performed, too. The printed version was later published in the Dada Almanach, and Ball´s performance can thus be seen as one of the key moments in the development of Dadaism. The artist comes from a literary and theatrical background and his reinvented language, without meaning or grammar, is also known as Lautsprache. The poem consists of nonsensical words; the meaning, however, resides in its meaninglessness, reflecting the chief principle behind Dadaism.
Dadaism was developed in reaction to World War 1, with its founders expressing their discontent towards violence, war, and radical politics. The movement also rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modem capitalist society. The revival of this poem, in our present times, marks the rejection of existing political corruption and daily breaches of human rights in the Arab world, especially in Lebanon, which is the mother nation of Zoghbi.
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