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PQ 2015: Exhibitions of the world´s most up-to-date scenography – what can you expect?

United Kingdom Architecture News - Jun 6, 2015 - 11:01   11308 views

PQ2015 Makers Thailand She loves us the way; image © Sudhisa Patibhanthewa

In addition to the Prague Quadrennials’s traditional national and student expositions, this year’s festival – held inside several of the city’s historical buildings – also presents experimental exhibitions that, each in its own way, combine scenography with everyday urban life. 

What does the world map of scenography look like? The PQ 2015 International Exhibition of Countries and Regions

The PQ’s central event is the International Exhibition of Countries and Regions. This year, this competitive exhibition features expositions from 66 countries and regions. Besides traditional PQ participants such as most European countries, Brazil, the United States, and China, this year the festival features several newcomers, and so for the first time ever the PQ will show expositions from Catalonia, Liechtenstein, Macao, Monaco, Quebec, and several Arab states.

The various country curators have created scenographic exhibitions in line with PQ 2015’s main theme of SharedSpace: Music Weather Politics. Visitors can thus encounter unpredictable weather, as in the Finnish exposition, where wind and rain alternate with heat and freezing temperatures. The Polish exhibition is filled with music through the use of “sounding trees” whose sound literally gets under your skin thanks to something called “bone-conduction” technology. Audiences will also witness political theatre, as in the Estonian exposition, which presents a fictional movement founded by Theatre NO99 that climaxes with a gathering of 7,000 participants to demonstrate the rise of populism and the crisis of democracy.

Many of the expositions in the sections of countries and regions have been put together with the participation of world-renowned artists, including scenographer Jerzy Gurawski (PL), opera director and scenographer Alfons Flores (CAT), members of the Back to Back Theatre (AUS) scenographers Ene-Liis Semper (EST), E.B. Brooks (USA), Sophie Jump (UK), Boris Kudlicka (SK), and many more.

PQ 2015 Performing Space New Zealand Familial clouds; image © Simon Twose

Scenography in the streets

Compared to previous years, the 2015 edition of the Prague Quadrennial features a significantly different programming concept, with many of the countries' expositions expanding into the public space. PQ visitors or just random pedestrians will have the opportunity to cross Prague´s longest square – the Wenceslas square on the surface of the Swiss installation: the “Wenceslas Line“  will visually „cut” the square in half. 

The Finnish exposition called Sound of Music (In a Box) will also invade the streets – this time with a movable container with the live installation including musicians playing musical instruments. In the accordance with the PQ’15´s theme Weather, the installation will be subjected to the four seasons. Both the musicians as well as their musical instruments will be exposed to the ravages of weather, completely changing.

PQ 2015 Section of Countries and Regions Switzerland; image © Bildbau Zurich

Scenography meets everyday life

Even an everyday walk can be transformed into an extraordinary experience if you happen to encounter one of PQ’s “Tribes”. During PQ 2015, downtown Prague will come alive with dozens of masked groups from all over the world – the tribes chosen by curator Sodja Lotker (CZ) will walk the streets and make appearances in the city’s metro system, theatres or even supermarkets, where they will interact with everyday reality. The routine of urban life will be disturbed by, for instance, a group of hunched old men in shiny superman costumes – Massimo Furlan’s (FR) tribe of “Blue Tired Heroes” feels as if it has emerged from some twisted dream. Japanese designer Hideki Seo (JAP) will send a tribe of tall fashion models into the streets wearing extravagant costumes that are a cross of high fashion and scenographic design. 

PQ 2015 Tribes Germany The chips are down! image © Paul Hiller

A “Key to Freedom” and other stories at the “Objects” exhibition

The central theme of the “Objects” exhibition is stories in which theatrical objects (or objects associated with theatre) become intertwined with their owners’ lives in unusual ways. The idea behind the exhibition can be illustrated through the story of one of the exhibited items – the “Key to Escape”. After a theatre group’s performance of a Greek tragedy at a women’s prison in Minnesota, the prison alarm goes off – the key to one of the cells had mysteriously disappeared. It is found a month later, when one of the actresses pulls it out of her tool bag at a repair shop… Other stories relate to an Icelandic flag, stuffed cats, a headless plush poodle, and a lemonade bottle, and will be presented at the Nová Sín exhibition space through short videos featuring their owners. The exhibition is curated by Tomáš Svoboda (CZ).

PQ 2015, Section of Countries and Regions, Catalonia; image © Franc Aleu

Food preparation as part of the performance

Lately, we have been able to witness a trend of everyday food preparation not as an integral part of everyday family life, but as a creative act and form of self-presentation. With this trend in mind, curator Rebekka Ingimundardóttir (IS) invited the participants of the live PQ’15 “Makers” exhibition to transform food preparation into a gourmet performance that culminates with the serving of the works of art (i.e., the food) to the audience. Viewers will literally use all their senses to experience for example a Thai variation of Jean Genet’s play The Maids, which the artists have called “Otherness” in reference to the omnipresent sense of being different in multicultural Thai society. Another highly sensory “Makers” performance is “Recipe for a Dog Heart” from Cyprus, which shows food preparation as an experimental operation in which the Makers serve the food as a medical discovery. The performances will take place throughout the PQ at the Gallery at the Bethlehem Chapel. 

Performing Space, or The Ephemeral Section of Architecture

This year’s architectural section at PQ 2015, fittingly titled “Performance Space, or The Ephemeral Section of Architecture”, will be presented in an unconventional manner in the form of city walks and lectures. The main goal of these “Space Walks” and “Space Talks” is to think about contemporary trends in performative architecture and to call attention to the “theatricality of urban space”. Who owns public space? How can space be expropriated or how can anyone even own space, and how can it be given meaning? These and other questions are asked by the authors of one of the “Performance Space” projects, Wojtek Ziemilski (PL) and Michal Libera (PL). Other walks will take visitors to historical parts of Prague, some will even take place on the surface of the Vltava River. The section’s curator is architect Serge von Arx (CH).

The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space will take place 18 to 28 June at various sites in the historical centre of Prague. In addition to its many exhibitions, the festival also features more than 40 lectures by leading international experts in the field of theatre and performance, student theatre performances, more than 60 professional workshops, a “Sound Kitchen” music workshop, and more. 

For more information, visit