Profile 1: HUGO BALL (1886-1927), Founding Member of the Zurich Dada Group

Photo-BallHugo-Cabaret Voltaire Performance-1916

I don’t want words that other people have invented. All the words are other people’s inventions. I want my own stuff, my own rhythm, and vowels and consonants too, matching the rhythm and all my own. –H. Ball           (

Hand-Engraved-RBall’s lifelong search for philosophical meaning, borne of his strict Catholic childhood and adult rejection of modern language and its contexts (the politics of WWI among them) –  was represented by fellow founder, Richard Huelsenbeck’s claim that the two chose the term “Dada” from a German-French dictionary to imply baby talk.

Ball, formerly a theater director, established the Café Voltaire with singer Emmy Hennings, one of two female founders of Dada, as the venue for all manner of the group’s arts and entertainment.  Quite soon, however, he grew weary of the “increasing nonsense” among the members, and in 1916 withdrew to the Swiss countryside to recover from exhaustion. His latest in a lifetime of malaise was attributed to regression to his  traumatic childhood during his performance of his own genre, sound poetry, which catapulted him back to bleakness.  In 1917, against the proposed international growth of Dadaism, he left the group forever, and married Emmy Hennings three years later.  Soon and ironically, Ball also left his political fervor behind, to renew his Catholic connections. –MEK. Hand-Engraved-L


Marie Osmond recites Ball’s 1916 poem, “Karawane” on Ripley’s Believe It or Not.


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