An unconventional symphony created by the movement of pigeons in flight, giant fish wandering the streets of Prague, a geolocational sound walk, a wall made of a thousand bricks, a silent carnival procession, new-circus acrobats, and fake lines of waiting for people. These are just a few of the many projects found in the projects Formations and Site-Specific Festival at this year’s Prague Quadrennial. These performances disturbing the everyday routine of the city’s public space take place primarily in Stromovka Park and the Prague Exhibition Grounds.
// The Formations disturbs the calm of the city and everyday life
Formations, a project put together by curators D. Chase Angier and Serge von Arx, explores the structures and models that influence everyday life. Depending on their field of practice, artists from around the world bring different points of view and enter, with a sense of curiosity, into experimental performative conversations throughout the city. At random moments, the projects interact with the public space, with passers-by, the weather, and other works of art that they happen upon. The program always shows each performance’s starting time, but not its exact contents or duration. Chance encounters on the expansive fairgrounds in front of the Industrial Palace offer a pleasant break from everyday life.
Robin Meier & Ensemble Cairn present a symphony for twelve pigeons and three musicians. The composition Song for Ghost Travellers explores chance and the fixed patterns of flying birds, which are translated into live music. In the performance Deform, Dutch artist Iris Woutera de Jong brings to life a sculpture designed as clothing for the human body in order to find new possibilities of movement. The Vietnamese-Chinese artist, researcher, and designer Moi Tran presents her improvised performative movement work The Circuit – A Movement Scenario, in which she pays homage to Vietnamese women. In The Red Carpet, French performer Jo Blin creates an improvised flea market where anyone can sell their memories on a piece of red carpet that is a place for commerce and art. In its performance, the collective Complejo Conejo works with the premise that if the city is like a sea, then the passers-by must be fish. Their six anthropomorphic fish walk through the city imitating and toying with everyday human behaviour. Meanwhile, the Norwegian theatre ensemble IZAM explores the performative potential of standing in line. By unexpectedly disturbing ordinary lines of visitors at PQ 2019, they question the anticipated structure of standing, waiting, and being served. The Czech collective tYhle, in collaboration with Studio Alta, has put together the hyper-athletic performance LEGOrytmus offering performances that reach for athletic goals using highly unconventional means of movement.
// The Site-Specific Performance Festival takes over Stromovka
Curator Sophie Jump has put together the Site-Specific Performance Festival presenting scenographically oriented performances by emerging and established international artists and ensembles. The diverse program offers everything from intimate performances for a limited number of viewers or public actions that visitors can join, all the way to grand spectacles. The range of options includes drama, dance, performance art, storytelling, costumes, installations, and new technologies from around the world.
Site-Specific Performance Festival takes place in the Exhibition Ground’s outdoor areas, in neighbouring Stromovka Park, and elsewhere throughout Prague. The performances in the city centre take the audience into familiar as well as practically unknown places. “Each performance invites the audience to savour the venue in all its intertwining layers – visible as well as invisible – and to do so through unusual interactions,” adds curator Sophie Jump.
French artists Carolina E. Santo and Emmanuelle Gangloff explore the fact that France has not participated in PQ since 2003. For Site-Specific Performance Festival, they have created an archaeological survey titled Excavating the Remains of French Scenography in Prague. Swiss artist Tom Greder comes to the PQ with his mobile projection booth Panorama, with which he alters the definition of interactive theatre. Thanks to its ability to rotate 360 degrees, the booth transforms reality into fantasy. As they look out through the window, the viewers inside experience the world from an absolutely new perspective.
For performances mixing elements of dance and circus, check out the joint project by Hungary’s SimorÁg DanCircus and Firebirds Productions titled The Flock Project. Their aerial vertical dance promises to be a dangerous spectacle. The program also includes a Brazilian carnival procession, but its silent version: the only sounds that Andaime Cia de Teatro’s Silent Carnival offers passers-by is via radio frequencies. Meanwhile, in Melting Borders, Riccardo Matlakas dissolves our country’s political symbols: in an installation consisting of ice cream in the colours of the Czech flag, the stains left by the melting ice cream become a “sweet flag” of the Czech Republic. In Morphogen by the Hungarian collective Theater Living Picture, the performers are wrapped in elastic fabrics to create colourful embodiments of the human soul.