About the Weather, the Sound, the Politics and the DESIGN at PQ’2015


Since asked to present a feedback about PQ’15,  I would like to satr saying how difficult is this task on trying to consolidate a conclusion about PQ’15 and its legacy, both from the point of view of the individual experience and for its own future as event …

The image in my mind as an icon or metaphor of PQ’15 is not the chairs and their display for taking the audience out of their state of comfort, but Inspired by the balloons holding the air and floating at the center of the Clam Galas Palace’s courtyard, also by the fact that particularly image was not seen by everyone attended at PQ’15, envisioned only during the previous days of its opening.PQ’15 could be initially summarized as a fragmented and breathtaking experience in face of a frantic and uninterruptedly series of events and between the seen and the unseen.

Visitors were travelling through the streets and mazes of Prague – this medieval urbanity, which modify our sense of space and time – seeking for the hiding venues of PQ’15 and their temporary treasures allocated in there, had brought from the vast world of the contemporary scene of design for performance by the international designers and curators.During the journey, as collecting ‘balloons of inspiration” a big number of balloons were accumulated, hold on visitors hands, to a point that became difficult to handle those all and we were forced to let some to go. The choices between which ones to hold and which ones to let it go are made according to some criteria or simple by letting to go those who really wants to escape … from our hands or from our understanding… At the end of the journey, thinking on the vanished balloons, and the ones still remaining on our hands, is inevitable to reflect about what they can offer as clues of analyses to help us on finding what this experience brings to us and to where it leads us after all? P

Q has no longer being just a showcase of beautiful models, but also a place for encounter, exchanging ideas and experiences on the field of the Design for Performance. Since its beginning, PQ keeps updated, following the practices and the transformations on the world contemporary scenography, reflecting today on the development of its own concepts, its own voice, which stands as a provocative, active and knowledgeable event.

PQ’15 had the challenge to assure the place of the design for performance as the heart of the event in middle of the unbroken profusion of live events. In some of the many events though, it was difficult to point to the role of the designer. Consequently, designers were force to reflect on: What does define limits today? How to identify the designer and the design for performance in some kind of live events. Also, as questioned by the participants on the No Man’s Land first session: how to identify what defines performance today?

There was an echo around PQ’15 questioning if it has become conceptual, surpassing the aesthetics, the space and the design performance. To reflect about that, I would like to remind the fact that PQ was create very much inspired on the Sao Paulo Arts Biennial at the 1960’s, assimilating the same way of participation by Countries. However, the Sao Paulo Arts Biennial was quickly transform, becoming conceptual in which artists and projects are selected only by the curatorial committee for over the last 30 years, the PQ strength relies on Countries participation and on the contribution of professional groups and individuals from the field of the design for performance.

PQ is an important network and its results is the out coming of the mutual collaboration between international participants and the local organization. It is made by people who strives to bring to Prague the most consistent and relevant projects and artists for the national, school, architecture exhibitions and parallel projects, on behalf of the best of the creativity and production on design for performance in contemporary world.

For PQ’15 curators and designers of the countries accepted the challenged on finding other ways to expose and to be more selective and precise regarding to the contents exposed and spaces available. However, PQ’15 exhibitions were not restricted to the limits of the buildings, but took also the option of bringing proposals to the crowd at the heart of Prague, in a dialogue with the city. A new possibility since that PQ has moved into the center of the town.

Individual applications has also been encourage, as  more open has been given at every edition of the PQ, through parallel sections and special projects – such as in the past: the Scenofest, in 2003 -2007 2011; Tribes and Space-Lab in 2015 – expanding the international collaboration. At same time, PQ expands its actions and activities now and in its future, it is essential to accurate what does it stands for.  PQ’15 was an important prove of what PQ can put together, how far it can goes and territories it can achieve and conquest. For the future, makes urgent and relevant to reflect about what makes PQ the unique, specific and relevant as an event.


I congratulate the artistic direction of the PQ’15 by the initiative of bringing together a curatorial team. Is not an easy work dealing with a diversity of professionals, temperaments, wishes, mainly from the point of the view of the production and all logistics, but it worth the effort as it made a singular PQ by communicating through multiple ‘languages’. The team’s proposals and concepts were developed and addressed with creativity and precision to the main theme, at same time they remained open and accessible, creating a room for dialogue and for the development of international curators’ ideas. The outcomes of these dialogues very often had surprised all of us by going beyond of the initial ideas, building proposals on the transversality of the concepts.

SHARED SPACE related to the Politics concept for PQ’15, drafted a new cartography of the PQ, expanding the space of non-textual narrative, and bringing up a debate about the geography of the individual. It explored the performance designer capacity to create narratives that overtake the real spaces by creating layers of fictional ‘places’ of memory and of other realities, at same time that can maintain a dialogue with the existing space.

PQ’15 became as an entirely world in the heart of the city of Prague, where historical buildings were occupied defining new ‘continents’, and the countries exhibitions demarked new borders and defined new frontiers. Prague’ streets became oceans where people from all around the world went sailing to explore for new territories, and where some islands were identified…

Although there are some similarities in ways of perceiving and thinking, there is no unanimity at PQ’15. It is a very strong process of self-analyses of the artist and his own work, position and direction to follow. Based on the conclusive works at the third and final session of No Man’s Land, is possible to affirm that PQ is a journey of the individual, visitors or artists, they are protagonist of the event. Is possible to think on a cartography of the man who experiences the PQ by taking, as a metaphor, the Prometheus performance given by the Hungarian representation at PQ’15.  A man (Prometheus) is fed by other individual’s donations, from all around the world, who give part of themselves for his ‘reconstruction’ – the individual ‘body’ became a world itself. A journey that certainly conducted many designer for performance for a crisis of its existence, and a strongly need for some ‘reconstitution’.

SHARED SPACE refers mainly on sharing processes, projects, creativity, in which participate creators, designers, performers, curators, judges, makers. I would like to see PQ to continue to refer to the all artists who keep making changes on the field of design for performance through their work, creating vivid and unforgotten experiences for all spectators. PQ is the possibility to show what does exist, to present the artists’ contemporary production on design for performance, to offer a worldwide  field of non-textual narratives; where is possible to be taken to another space and time juxtaposed to the reality, to another realities. To make possible to analyses and to theorize the design for performance, it needs to exist at first, it needs to had been experienced, otherwise the discussion about what has not been practiced becomes an empty dialogue.

Aby Cohen


Published by Aby Cohen

Theatre and Exhibition Designer - based in Sao Paulo - Brazil - Has been created and realized important national and international projects. Was recently internationally awarded for two projects: as Curator and Designer for Brazilian National Exhibition at PQ’11- Prague Quadrennial - awarded with the Golden Triga; and Mix Max, Brasil - presented at Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam, 2012 - 2015 awarded by the IDCA International Design Communication Awards in second place as the Best Exhibition Layout category in 2013. PhD title in Design for Performance at ECA│USP – School of Arts and Communication at University of Sao Paulo and working as International Curator for Prague Quadrenial 2015. Vice-President of the OISTAT International. Currently Lecturer at ECA-USP teaching Scenography

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