Desenhos de Cena #1 (Sao Paolo – Brazil, 2016)

Desenhos de Cena #1

Scenic Design as an experience

Aby Cohen

Design and curatorship

Desenhos de Cena #1 is a way of telling stories with scenic elements rather than words; stories where life emanates from seemingly inert elements, fleeting images, sounds, colors, light, motion. It embodies the fertile field of artistic expression that arises at the intersection of theatre, installation and performance. A project born from the desire to create, through scenic designs, a living place, a rich field of experience. Here, images and compositions are not just bodies for contemplation; they define a place, drawing the space in scenic compositions, as a big stage shared by actions and gatherings of images, in which the various expressions of scenic design cohabit and develop a dialogue. This performative space is inhabited by different narratives, in which the visitors will have the opportunity to take their own journey. It aims that, from the audience’s interaction  and their own repertoire, stories will come through, with all of its themes – love, death, fear, achievement, reality, illusion. On this live stage, the scenic design is presented to be experienced by everyone, regardless of language, culture or origin.

Desenhos de Cena #1 highlights the work of a select group of visual artists, set designers, costume designers, lighting designers, sound designers and performers from different countries and continents, where they are individually recognised and respected for their artistic and professional works.

The exhibition  reunites work that pull away from the scenic design in the conception of an installation or performance to become performative in their own being.Creations by artists who promote breaks in the boundaries of languages, proving to be an inspiration in fighting against stagnation and repetition. The works are presented on two forms of narrative – Installations and Archives – sharing the same permeable space. Installations are constantly activated or self-activated, momentary or perpetual, sometimes evolving to performance. As the acts of a play, they set the pace of action on this big stage. Archives, in turn, present the repertoire of artists like lines of a non-existent text, memory records or artefacts transposed from other stages. It also invites exploration of the material of the objects  in cabinets of curiosities or  transformed into installations.

Desenhos de Cena #1 presents a unique performance emerging from the encounter of this group of artists that will be daily presented for nearly three months. It represents a turning point, a conclusion of a cycle, following to the start of another journey. A drawing as a gesture, making a helical movement upward or inward but never to return or stagnate.

Beyond the artists exhibiting, this project also received invaluable contributions from Pamela Howard OBE, author of What is Scenography, and Markéta Fantová, artistic director of  Prague Quadrennial 2019, who happily shared their views on the practice of designing for performance today in this catalogue.


ABY COHEN (Brazil) is a set designer, costume designer, art director and curator. Graduated in Design from FAAP, she began his career in theater in Grupo Macunaíma directed by Antunes Filho, in the 1990s. As a set and stage designer, received important awards, as the IDCA – International Communication Design Awards (2013) by MixMax Brazil exhibition (Amsterdam , 2012-2015); and the Golden Triga PQ’11, highest distinction of the Prague Quadrennial, for design and the curatorship of the Brazilian National Exhibition: Characters and Frontieres: Brazilian Scenographic Territory. She joined the curatorial artistic team of the Prague Quadrennial – the PQ’15 SharedSpace: Music – Weather – Politics, invited by Sodja Lotker to take the Politics segment. In PQ’15 she also developed the project No Man’s Land, an occupation of The Crossroads, one of the most symbolic cultural venues of Prague. Doctorate in Performing Arts from the School of Communication and Arts at the University of São Paulo, she teaches scenography at a postgraduate course at the Faculty of Fine Arts in São Paulo.

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