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Book reading, music and film
Sunday, 24.04.2016, 20:20
oh what a night...
Arthur Cravan,
King of the ruined existence
Born Fabian Avenarius Lloyd he was a pugilist, poet, provocateur extraordinaire, wild man, boozer, dandy and larger than life character. Born 1887 in Lausanne, Switzerland and despite this birth defect he became the darling of the 1916 Dada movement.

Arthur Cravan is brought back to life tonight with a multi-media spectacle that features his writings, his poetry put to guitar and voice, plus film clips and photos. The reading is by Joerg Pohl from the Thalia Ensemble Hamburg and HF Coltello is handling the musical part.


«I may be the king of the ruined existence but at least I’m the king of something!» this prodigious drinker was wont to exclaim. Actually what was so ruinous about this colorful bird’s very colorful life? He may have started out with the handicap of his place of birth and kooky parents with names like Otho Holland Lloyd and Clara St. Clair. And from then on it was all a marvelous wild ride. Like when he got expelled from a British Military college for spanking the professor. When he sold the Paris literary magazine «Maintenant» which he published and sold from the back of a vegetable cart. When he «just wanted to make some money to buy a ticket to New York» and valiantly fought the then heavyweight champion of the world Jack Johnson in a bullfight arena in Barcelona only to get knocked out cold in the 6th. (Johnson said afterwards that «the guy looked out of shape to him»). When he insulted the love of Appolinaire and was challenged to a duel of which the outcome was that the great French poet was seen around Paris with his arm in a sling. Oh, and because his aunt Constance was married to Oscar Wilde, Arthur signed his own writings with «Oscar Wilde» as a hoax at times.

Cravan invented and invariably re-invented himself, putting himself and his love for himself at the center of his «existential art».  That’s perhaps the reason why he was so popular with modernists like Tzara, Picabia, Huelsenbeck, Arp, the Dada bunch from the Zurich Cabaret Voltaire. They saw him as an early protagonist of performance art. Clearly he was a charlatan and a genius all the same. «Every great artist has a sense of provocation» he declared. Arthur Craven drowned 1918 in a violent storm off the coast of Mexico.

Arthur Cravan: Koenig der verkrachten Existenzen
In German, from the French by Pierre Gallissaires and Hanna Mittelstaedt
New edition, incl. photos and documents, 192 pages
22 Euros

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