“Hold this book. Heavy isn’t it? Actually that’s only half of it.
It’s one of the longest in the world. It has 1256 pages (depending on the edition and language you are reading in), originally written in four volumes, there’s more than 135 characters. Have you actually read it?...I’m only half way through.”
Far from the shifting borders of conflict and violence, in a place ravaged by peace, a group of artists attempt to hold a salon, a gathering similar to those held in High Society Russia at the beginning of the 19th century. Their intention is to contemplate “War and Peace”, a book written over almost a century and half ago, but also real war and real peace which defines history and the perspective from which it’s told.
Throughout the evening guests are introduced according to rank and status, in a never ending parade of characters that reaches beyond the pages of the novel. Dances are danced, meals are prepared and duels are fought. Performers prepare for scenes as if going to battle, in a game of shifting perspectives and extremely subjective opinions on what actually happens not only in the book, the film, the TV series but also in the world at large.
Playful and improvised, Gob Squad’s War and Peace searches the performers’ own backdrops of conflict, notions of freedom, privilege and safety. Duty and the individual versus community are discussed through the ordinariness of day-to-day life. In a modern day attempt to address one of Tolstoy's concerns: how should one live a moral life in an ethically imperfect world? Or in our times, how can we live inside capitalism, comfortable in the knowledge of the absolute damage and suffering that our daily, ordinary ‘peaceful’ lifestyles promise?
War and Peace is a new live video performance by Gob Squad, a collective reading experience of a historic novel, in which art and daily life, history and the present, reality and fiction blur and everybody becomes a potential protagonist.
Gob Squad build on previous works like Prater Saga, Western Society, Super Night Shot and Revolution Now! in terms of casting characters from the street or the audience in fictional set-ups, reconstructions and personal storylines.