The King of Nothingness After Dinner, Asemic Lands & the Ocean by Tunni Kraus

Australian artist, Tunni Kraus, talks about his latest project which premiered on April 11 at ATAR, Old Jaffa Museum in Israel. The exhibition will remain open through April 27 with an additional performance on the 27th at 8pm. This is a collaboration with Jordine Cornish & Gidon Levy.

This show is a blend of exhibition and performance, created through a process of experimentation, workshopping and composing with ink, sound, rocks and the human body. It is a humble protest amongst continuous streams of digital information, surrendering to a language stripped of any literal meaning, on land we do not claim.

Jordine and I are both Australian, Melbourne trained artists who currently find ourselves immersed in fascinating languages and traditions. With Jordine living in Tel Aviv and I in Acre, our current day to day lives are enmeshed in Semitic dialects spoken in ancient Mediterranean ports. Washed up languages, fishing nets and sea debris, a lost tablet, the primordial pen, stolen histories, a manuscript of nothingness – all elements used to construct, inform or even deconstruct our choreography.

We pretty much just got together and started playing. Esoteric, religious texts were deconstructed and reimagined through a radical collaboration and cross-disciplinary improvisation. I then presented a 22-letter alphabet carved into rocks, six of those presented at the gallery. We used the forms of these letters as a trigger for both movement and sound. If dance was a spoken language, then maybe we could say that the written language is the score. Essentially, we immersed ourselves in a foreign score, an unrecognisable language, 22 elements of nothingness.

I’ve never worked directly with a dancer before and I have been overwhelmed by the expansive freedom of the medium – being physical, cognitive, emotive and visual – Jordine was inadvertently teaching me about time and space in a way that I could not attain though scribing or calligraphy. The three of us find exploring form as integral to our artistic practice. A written asemic language stripped of all context, becomes all about form, and from that place we can improvise with curiosity. Utilizing repetition, abstraction and movement we exposed the forms further than any of us could have done individually.

Despite our diverse backgrounds, we are all very much involved in developing each element of the piece and we have been gently pushing each other to traverse our respective practices. I have recorded my voice for part of the vocals, Jordi is playing our invented calligraphic instrument and Gidon, even though he would be very modest about it, has been sensitively choreographing all the way through. We utilised aluminum and copper to create an extensive glyph that connects directly to Gidon’s mixer. Running an electrical current through the sculpture, it essentially becomes a touch sensitive instrument. One that has occasionally electrocuted Jordine. In fact, I’m the only one that hasn’t been electrocuted (yet) working on this project.

Dictated and enchanted by an asemic alphabet, a Semitic language, we meditated on each saliferous form. From the bedrock we composed a manuscript. A language spoken by people with no king, no name, no tongue, no voice, and from there we set sail across the rune.

Click here to view a short video of the performance.
ATAR, Old Jaffa Museum
10 St. Mifratz Shlomo Promenade
Old Jaffa, Israel

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