BRITISH-GERMAN video and performance collective Gob Squad formed around an impulse to bring media into performance and real life into art−to locate the point at which the traditional relationships between artists and audiences end, and a shared human experience begins.
Since 1994, Gob Squad has serviced its mission by storming host cities with cameras pointed toward unfiltered human emotion (screening the resultant footage a mere hour later); performing a game of gestures inspired by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest on the court of an abandoned tennis stadium in a suburb of Berlin; and even constructing entirely round theaters to present seven-camera panoramic footage relating "one place of a city as a microcosm of the entire world."
For TBA:12, Gob Squad is breaking out their well-tested Gob Squad's Kitchen (You've Never Had It So Good). It's a re-creation of Andy Warhol's 1965 film Kitchen, the star vehicle written for cutie pie Edie Sedgwick, in which a group of people with nothing to do stand around in a kitchen and drag heels through wiry botched dialogue and lavishly mundane improvisational conversation. It's an exercise in "nothing really happens."
Sarah Thom of Gob Squad says that while nothing much is happening in Kitchen, within that nothingness is something exemplary of its time, and it's a "rare diamond" for that reason: "They're forgetting their lines... they're off their tits on drugs... and they're making it up as they go along and getting it wrong."
For Gob Squad's rendition, actors take the stage behind a screen onto which video of the live action is projected. Members of the collective play the roles from the original film—and bits and pieces of other Warhol flicks like Screen Test, Sleep, Eat—but throughout the show, actors are replaced with audience members who are fed lines through a headset.
While the musical chairs that takes place between performer and audience services Gob Squad's desire to establish untraditional relationships with its audience, Thom says it also renders the stage into simultaneous social, private, and public spaces, bringing to light the increasingly fragile (and decreasingly authentic) roles occupied therein. Just like in the mid-'60s urbanity of Warhol's Kitchen, nothing is really happening on our Facebook walls and Twitter feeds, but we still steep ourselves in them, passively clicking things, circulating the info of the day, fucking up our lines along the way. There's something beautiful and wholly inconsequential about it.
Gob Squad's Kitchen (You've Never Had It So Good)
Lincoln Hall at PSU, Thurs Sept 13-Sat Sept 15, 8:30 pm, $25-30, pica.org