Narrating War Narrating War

Narrating War

Violence & the culture it consumes/perpetuates is a fundamental condition lodged in the core of human experience. It is simultaneously private, public, self-intimating & collective. War is an easy thing to look away from, if we are sitting miles away – we change the channel, we compartmentalise them, sort and neatly fold them into civilizations, time periods, regions and nationalities. By accepting war as normal we have become passive participants. War tears, rends. War rips open, eviscerates. War scorches. War dismembers. War ruins. War is actually Hell. To make visible this phenomena, I began research in 2014 to compile a timeline of ‘every war, battle, revolt, revolution, siege, sacking, rebellion, bombing & insurgency’, from 3000 BC to the present. This ongoing timeline/database is the foundation of the project, and forms the key ‘script’ for an ongoing multimedia performance-reading of this list, titled ‘Narrating War’.

As an endurance performance designed to last for hours & often days conducted in sites of violence, and sites of knowledge production, the act of reading, almost like a litany, is imagined as an act of mourning, of remembrance, & deterrence from continued violence & conflict: only when we are confronted with war in its entirety as a whole, as a continuous, singular event encompassing 5018 years, is there a possibility to be jolted out of our stupor & shed our complacence.

Narrating War focuses on the current situation of a permanent state of conflict across the globe, addressing violent incidents in the world not as isolated events but as a condition of an ongoing, unparalleled warfare – it insists above all, that to ignore what threatens us is both irresponsible and dangerous. The concern here is not to celebrate war, but to mourn those who have died – to deal with memory: During World War I, civilians made up fewer than 5 percent of all casualties. Today, 75 percent or more of those killed or wounded in wars are non-combatants.

Rather than looking at War within the usual frameworks of national or international bodies of identity, the performance is concerned with a collective history and a global body of identity. It narrates a history of war, conflict, & violence as the most continuous, omnipresent & ongoing history of humanity, ‘a civil war on a planetary scale’ & evidences that the collective history of human conflict is second only to history of language/music.

The project as a performance reading tries to tell a story from which emerges an intense voyage rooted in that first war – leading to the most recent conflict, laying open the reality of it not being the last one either. To hold onto, without falling into despair – to hold onto the awareness that cultures can exist together, religions can exist together, and that we can exist together.

The length of this performance varies depending on available time, and may be decided with the organizers. The performance will include a sound piece and a silent video, requiring a microphone, a projector, a sound system and speakers.

Previously, Narrating War has been performed in its evolving iterations, at:

  1. Reciprocities, TaideMuseo ARTSI, Vaanta, 2021
  2. New Performance Turku, Festival 2020: Mobilities, Turku, Finland, 2020
  3. Relational Figures, Myymälä2, Helsinki, Finland, 2019
  4. Experimental Event IV: La Torre de Babel – curated by Anna Jensen and Andrea Coyotzi Borja, Valimo Hall of Palmgren Conservatory, Pori, Finland, 2018
  5. Carinarnica, Nova Gorica, Slovenia, 2018
  6. Performance LAB XV – curated by Vishnu Vardhani, Museum of Impossible Forms, Helsinki, Finland, 2018
  7. How to Participate in the Archive – curated by Vidisha Fadescha, TIFA Working Studios, Pune, India, 2018
  8. Memory of War – curated Heidi Hänninen, Kaapelitehdas, Helsinki, 2017
  9. Clark House, Mumbai, 2017
  10. Where does poetry nest? – curated by Giovanna Esposito Yussif, Pispala Memorial, Tampere, 2016
  11. Pan-African Space Station by Chimurenga Collective – curated by Ahmed Al Nawas, Kallio Public Library, Helsinki, 2016