Today’s post will focus on student work at PQ15. There is student work from 50 countries on exhibit (!); in addition, there are numerous student performances, both on the street and in various exhibition spaces. I’m not going to write about fifty exhibitions here – just some select highlights.
At a space called the “Lapidarium” in the basement of the Bethlehem Chapel the work of students from sixteen countries is on display. Among my favorites of this group are (in no particular order):
Israel – “Seal – In the Moment”
Scenography students from Israel have designed an installation comprised of large glass pickling jars containing metaphoric crystallizations of the intersection of personal history with national history and identity. Each jar holds a little story – for example, one, entitled “The broken-promise land,” contains what looks like a bottle of spoiled milk, a reference to Israel’s claim to be the the Land of Milk and Honey. Another, with a broken jar spilling sand into another jar, pays homage to the many years the artist’s ancestors spent saving to build a home in Israel. I found this exhibit particularly haunting and poignant.
Republic of Korea – “Weather Box/ Weather: Carry the Problem”
Design students from Korea put together an exhibit that resembles a set of suitcases or crates spilling open with scenography. Another part of the installation is interactive: it has visitors turn a knob on one of those toy-dispensing machines, which dispenses a plastic bubble with a weather symbol on it. You then open a drawer and take out a little string-wrapped box with a matching symbol; inside you find a quote and a little toy or candy. The rest of the exhibition features examples of student scenography that confront the visitor with the caprice of weather and the problems caused by climate change – model boxes with titles like “Downpour” and “Our space is becoming desolate”.
New Zealand – “The seed. Weather.”
This, too, is an interactive installation – visitors are invited to help weave a cloth and add silver beads to it. The act of weaving becomes a chance to engage in conversation and learn of New Zealand’s indigenous arts.
Slovenia – “Silent Storm”
Slovenia’s students designed an interactive multimedia installation consisting of a maze of large steel panels that allow visitors to recreate the sound of a storm. Entering the space and touching or pounding the panels not only provokes the sound of thunder and lightning (like old-fashioned thunder sheets), it also triggers video of a roiling storm. One of the more thought-provoking ecological aspects of this exhibit is the fact that – like climate change – once the visitor sets things in motion, he or she has no control over the chaotic results.
United Kingdom – “The View From Here”
I think this is my favorite of the installations at the Lapidarium. This is a partnership project between a number of design schools in the UK. Rather than showcasing individual work, these students chose to create a small immersive theater experience. Entering the exhibit, the visitor stands in line at a “Border Patrol” station lined with signs of prohibition: NO tea. NO political activism. NO aliens. NO mother nature. Etc.
After removing shoes and receiving a stamped visa, the visitor enters the space proper, where expectations are completely upended. Instead of the forbidding totalitarian space the entryway sets you up to expect, you are greeted by friendly, chatty, brightly costumed young women (one named “Chuck”) who invite you to sit on the floor, draw with markers, share stories about yourself, and leave a little token behind. I loved the way this installation subverted expectations and shifted the narrative of immigration from an ideology of self-centered exclusion to one of generous inclusion.
Monaco – “Pavillon Bosio”
This installation has video of collaborative work between the Monte Carlo Ballet & the Monaco Scenography School. The photos below don’t really do this wonderful dance/scenography collaboration justice – it’s impossible to take a good photo of a video. I don’t usually have the patience to stand and watch a video, but these were absolutely captivating – the kind of dance I love.
More on student work at the Kafka House in my next post…Stay tuned!