I bet you thought I was done posting about PQ15 — I know I did! But then, lo and behold, I received an email from CMU alum (and top notch dramaturg, I may add…now based in NYC) Rachel Abrams, with descriptions of all sorts of stuff I missed (it’s a huge event, you’d need to be four people to do everything on the program!!)
So hear, without further ado, are photos and blurbs from Rachel:
“The first official day of PQ featured a talk titled, ‘Space-shifter: Jerzy Gurawski and the Architecture of Theatrical Space.’ Scholar Dariusz Kosiński gave a lecture on how Gurawski used both theatre design and architecture to redefine the performer/audience member relationship. Towards the end of the session, the PQ organizers tried to Skype with Gurawski himself so that he could talk about his work. Alas, after a few hopeful moments of connection, the technology sputtered and crashed, and we resorted to an audience Q&A with Kosiński to end.”
I may or may not have mentioned in my first PQ post that the Gold Medal PQ 2015 for Provoking a Dialogue went to Mia David, curator of the exhibition of Serbia: Power(less) – Response(ability) and the curatorial team of the students’ exhibition of Serbia: Process, or What DOES Matter to Me. Rachel attended this exhibit on the second day of PQ, and writes: “Over the course of ten days, new Serbian artists were invited daily to create live installations/performance art, or to create their still art in public, while being monitored by surveillance cameras feeding into screens in the next room. In a PQ talk titled, ‘Stages of Utopia,’ one of the Serbian curators (whose name does not appear on the original program) highlighted the tension here between surveillance built to protect citizens and the discomfort of losing one’s own privacy.”
Remember how I mentioned the “Makers” exhibit in the Bethlehem Gallery – where students put on food performances? I saw only two of these. Here’s another, “Recipe for the Heart of a Dog,” which Rachel attended:
She writes: “A performance group from Cyprus created a non-linear experience in which, according to the PQ programme, ‘Food is prepared as experimental surgery and served as a medical discovery.’ I was particularly compelled by images of a young woman undergoing a sort of ‘food plastic surgery,’ where cast members in lab coats stuffed her limbs with bread and colored her with a cranberry paste, before the patient rose again as a ‘bread Frankenstein.’ For me, the performance evoked commentary on women’s complex relationship between food and our bodies (for example, saying ‘That extra piece of bread is gonna stick to my thighs,’ and then considering which cultures may consider that ‘extra stuffing’ to be beautiful and desirable). Then the performers transitioned into preparing a party with food as ‘medicine’…which in many cases actually meant food spiked with vodka served to the audience.” Here are a couple more photos:
“Brazil’s exhibition featured a giant sculpture of dodecahedrons resembling a tree with silver globes as its fruit. Each globe offered a window into a different Brazilian designer’s work.”
“Australia’s exhibition had a series of projects featured in books on studio tables, and the book descriptions corresponded with a film presentation of the work. The project featured in this image focused on Aboriginal displacement and their descendants’ struggles with homelessness.”
CMU alum Erik Lawson and CMU professor Joe Pino, respectively, presenting their designs at the PQ Sound Kitchen:
“Erik’s piece, a delightful three-movement duet between synthesizer and harp, used statistical evidence of climate change (average temperature, ice cap coverage, etc.) over the last few decades from multiple cities to dictate the pace and tone of the music. Even with such dire undertones emitting from this data, the piece does not merely bemoan the state of our planet or cite direct blame for its destruction. Instead, Erik’s choice to feature a soothing harp, complemented by just a soft synth line and kept pure with a fairly simple instrumentation, makes the listener long for Earth’s beauty when a foreboding synth line takes over, warning us that we could lose this beauty forever. Joe’s inspiration for his piece came from a novel (unfortunately I missed the title!) in which the protagonist’s mind wanders as he bottle-feeds his infant. This piece evoked fragmented and muffled memories of murky voices and events, and the surreal yet familiar soundscape created, as Susan Tsu referred to it, a ‘lucid dream.'”
And then there is the “OBJECTS” exhibit: “The Objects exhibit featured props and other items that designers associate with their productions or stories from their theatrical landscapes. The exhibit itself was fairly simple: a table filled with the objects, unlabeled, and behind them a black booth with a looped film of the designers tell the stories of the objects. Some of my favorite stories included: a prop poodle with a bloody detachable head that came to symbolize the director’s ex-boyfriend, a mask made of hammock material as a commentary on homelessness in Mexico, an authentic wooden weapon from New Zealand used as a prop, a flying pig that a designer features in her sets as a memorial to a director who died of cancer (who told all his friends and family, ‘I will beat cancer when pigs fly,’ and found his house filled with flying pig figurines), a Queen Elizabeth crown that saved the opera signer wearing it from a piece of scenery that fell during a performance, a rhino mask with tiny eye holes responsible for many actor injuries, an authentic Mexican grinding set used onstage, and a key from a women’s penitentiary in Chicago that went missing during a performance in a prison (which a designer found someone slipped into her bag months later).
I have two videos from PQ that I’m going to try to upload in the next post, one from Rachel, and one that I forgot I had on my phone. Stay tuned to see if the technology demons are on my side!