Acts of Assembly: Exhibiting Performance Space at the 2023 Prague Quadrennial

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Abstract

This chapter discusses my curatorial concept for the Performance Space Exhibition at the 2023 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ). My aim for the exhibition – titled ‘Acts of Assembly’ – is that it serve as a forum for investigating how theatres and performance venues operate as acts of assembly and sites for community: How do they create connections? How do they facilitate encounters? How do they function as spaces for social action and the making of culture? What underpins these central questions is an understanding that space performs, and that theatres and performance spaces not only provide the infrastructure for various assemblies but also constitute distinct acts of assembly.

The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a catalyst for us to re-think many of our assumptions about theatre, about the world in which we make it, and about its relationship to that world. As an ecological crisis, the pandemic has disrupted the operation of theatres and performance spaces as physical sites of assembly by requiring us to adapt to the unseen, undetectable presence of a virus. Theatres and performances spaces have closed for extended periods. Others have altered seating patterns to enable physical distancing, adjusted production processes and sought to enhance ventilation. Still others have changed function, serving as sites for the distribution of food and support to the communities around them. Meanwhile, developments in event streaming and digital media – ask us to consider performance itself as an assembly or assemblage. Performance can now happen in multiple places, with and for different groups of people, simultaneously.

In this context, the concepts of assembly and assemblage offer lenses through which to re-consider the operations and functions of performance spaces in this time of social, political and ecological upheaval. They connect theatre and performance spaces to the unsettling energies of demonstrations and public assemblies, ask us to think about the interconnections and interdependencies between the human and the more-than-human, and offer us a means of expanding the possibilities for what performance space might be.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArchitecture, Artistic Practices and Cultural Heritage
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary reflections, from theory to practice
EditorsEvelyn Lima, Niuxa Drago, Carolina Lyra
Place of PublicationRio de Janeiro
PublisherLoope Editora
Pages23-45
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic) 978-65-89587-53-8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

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