78 countries are to take part in the 13th Prague Quadrennial – the biggest festival in the world devoted to scenography and theatrical architecture. This year’s edition takes place in the historic centre of Prague, where projects by six thousand artists are to be exhibited. Poland was honoured with a special role.
The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space has taken place every four years, as the name suggests, since 1967. Until recently the idea behind the festival was to build a “visual map of the theatre and visual arts”, and to show what had happened in the world of theatre between editions.
Four years ago the PQ formula was extended, making this year’s edition more interdisciplinary and showing scenography as a wide spectrum of practices – from scenic scenography, costume design, lights, and sound, to new practices such as site-specific performance, installations, happenings in the urban space or the costume as a performance.
13th Prague Quadrennial lasts 11 days (18th –28th June 2015). 78 countries (four years ago – 62 countries) will exhibit their projects, with the involvement of six thousand artists. Traditionally, the foundation of the Prague Quadrennial is the Section of Countries and Student Sections. Apart from this, many other live events will be held: discussions, workshops, lectures, and performances. Additionally, PQ was extended to experimental projects to encourage the audience participation: Performing Space, Objects, Makers, and Tribes. The programme has also special events addressed to the youngest in the audience.
For the first time in the quadrennial's history, exhibitions will take place in the historic city centre that will attract the audience to discover the unusual, artistic space of the Czech capital, and its numerous architectural sites of a varied nature. The audience will follow the path of historic buildings in the Old Town of Prague to visit galleries there. The main centre of quadrennial is situated by the Charles Bridge in Colloredo Mansfeld Palace.
The topics of this year’s edition are music, weather, and politics, which are to inspire artists from all over the world to explore scenography as a strong, though sometimes invisible, force of performance which has an influence on people’s behaviour.
The Polish exhibition is coordinated by the Theatre Institute and financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The curator of Section of Countries is Agnieszka Jelewska. The exhibition is called Post-Apocalypsis, and it is the first Polish and Prague Quadrennial project that relies on the joint effort of researchers, programmers, composers, designers, and architects. The curator invited to Post-Apocalypsis is the outstanding Polish architect and scenographer Jerzy Gurawski, as well as a group of young artists: Pawel Janicki, Rafal Zapala, and Michal Krawczak.
The work by artists has an interactive form that engages spectators, who enter a world of installations where sound, weather and politics combine to create an unusual ecosystem.
“The weather conditions of the modern world are the connection between all those factors which influence a state of anxiety, threat, constant crisis. The installation Post-Apocalypsis is an attempt to point out the complicated assemblages created by modern humans with technonature that not just surround them, but also shape the modern space for Earth’s survival. From the perspective of this project the weather is the audio-somatic aura, shaped by the endless performance between human and inhuman actors."
– explains Agnieszka Jelewska, the curator, co-founder, and the manager of the HAT Research Center at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan.
The direct inspiration for the installation was the latest Jerzy Grotowski play Apocalypsis Cum Figuris, one of the most important plays of the 20th century.
“Grotowski thought about space as a value played and expanded between people alone. It was an anthropological cavity, opened to forming relations, and also searching for the individual spiritual depth. The gesture of recalling this event in the beginning of the 21st century has extraordinary significance, especially when one of inspirations for this event is Jerzy Gurawski, the scenographer, who collaborated with Grotowski in the first period of the director’s artistic actions.”
– adds Jelewska.
Besides, ideas of romanticism, which are coming back nowadays, demand to be read constantly anew.
“It's not just to be read in the national independent way or the purely human-spiritual way, but also in the way that reveals clearly thinking about system, global, distributed and relational life on Earth”.
– points out Jelewska.
Apart from the Section of Countries, there is also a Polish presence at the Prague Quadrennial in the Students Section, and in events and presentations in the Makers, Performing Space, Objects and Tribes sections.
“Our presence at PQ 2015 is very visible. Poland is taking part in experimental projects, which seems to be promising. Among them, particular attention should be paid to the project called Voice Over within the Performing Space project prepared by the duo of Michal Libera and Wojtek Ziemilski. It will be a two-part theatrical performance based on voice and sound, which is going to “infect” the most crowded place in Prague – the Charles Bridge. Anna Krolikiewicz, an artist, and Maciej Nowak, a theatrologist and culinary critic within the Makers section will reconstruct the gastronomic universum inspired by Stanislaw Wyspianski’s drama Wesele.”
– emphasizes Anna Galas from the Theatre Insitute and the PQ 2015 producer.
Two lectures prepared by Polish specialists are found in the accompanying programme of PQ: Professor Dariusz Kosinski will deliver Space – Shifter: Jerzy Gurawski and Architecture of Theatrical Space (18th June), and Wojtek Ziemilski will give a lecture entitled The Man Without the Space (21st June).
13th Prague Quadriennale of Performance Design and Space
SharedSpace Music, Weather, Politics
18th – 28th June 2015
Source: the Theatre Institute, www.pq.cz, edited by AS, translated by Barbara Bedka