‘Intersection: Intimacy and Spectacle’, was the major interactive event of the 2011 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. The design process was questioning the space of theater and the space of art – and, at the same time, the form that the meeting of the artistic and the everyday might take in the public realm. The curatorial theme of the projects was looking to evoke the blurring of borders between theater and visual arts and to examine the somewhat negating concepts of spectacle and intimacy. That year, following the fire damage to the Industrial Palace which hosted the event in all previous years, we embraced the opportunity to situate the upcoming event in the midst of Prague’s public space. A vast open square located between the 19th century National Theater building and the communist era “Laterna Magika” buildings was chosen as our site.
The architecture added an additional layer by bluntly intersecting the artistic event with the everyday life of the city, deliberately making both activities “leak” into each other. The first image we formulated was of several room-size black boxes and white cubes (micro ‘ideal theaters’ and ‘ideal galleries’) parked in the public square, each providing a compact interior for an intimate engagement (oftentimes made for one viewer at a time) with a work of art. This preliminary image exposed an opportunity to accent the physical articulation of the vacant square, and thus allow there the quality of the anonymous, public intimacy large cities provide. From that moment on the process of the design has a parallel structure: The Art Boxes, commissioned to thirty international artists to be filled with interactive installations and performances, were each individually specified and detailed. Laid out on the square, the art boxes form a micro “Art City” with its “streets” and “courtyards” designed to cohere with the curatorial syntax.
Simultaneously, a particular exterior – a “Public Shell” that is made for the public life of the city was created: A wooden landscape that is bounded on-top and around the art boxes. The new landscape of the shell is making seating areas, a cafe-bar and an open air cinema, designed for the use of the public with free, independent 24-hour program. The Public Shell’s porous landscape is weaving together the public activities with the art project that is at its foundation, enabling an ongoing interaction between the upper and the lower, the collective and the individual, the accidental and the designed, the Artistic and the Urban.
Artistic Direction: Sodja Lotker Project Designer: Eyal Silis Project Assistants: Daniel Rauchwerger, Edith Kofsky