Since 1967, once every four years, PQ explores the field of scenography in its broadest sense - from scenic art, sound and light design to new approaches in scenography, like site-specific, applied scenography, street performance or costume as performance. The core of the festival is contemporary scenography creating an environment, which acts upon all the human senses.
Most of the installation at PQ is currently based on performativity and interaction, when an audience adopts an active participatory role co-creating the imaginative environment of scenography. Thus, PQ is open to further artistic professions and shows the interdisciplinary character of scenography and performance design. From the audience viewpoint, this results in an attractive and untraditional format, which, as opposed to an exhibitory style of galleries, works with an active and two-way inclusion of the audience, when each visitor becomes co-creator of their unique experience at one of the culturally most diverse festivals in Europe. PQ 2015 received a prestigious award EFFE and was named one of the most innovative festivals in Europe.
The 15th edition of PQ will take place on 8 to 18 June 2023. The main festival location will be the Prague Market, some of the festival programme parts will take place in the Fair Trade Palace of the National Gallery and at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Within the two main competitive exhibitions and six projects curated by an international team of professionals, PQ 2023 will present artworks from hundreds of artists from dozens of countries from all over the world.
The theme of PQ 2023 is “RARE” - in a sense of a unique, one and only, raw, or bizarre. This choice reflects the ground-breaking changes in all areas of human activity and creativity, which was accelerated by the pandemic during the last two years. Our conception of the physical was significantly altered - the space, encounters and sharing. The physical became a rare and unique opportunity. The theme aims to invite scenographers and performance designers to share their notions of the post-pandemic world and their visions of the future influenced by the events of the near past.
Main exhibitions of the Prague Quadrennial
The Exhibition of Countries and Regions is the historically most significant exhibition of PQ. It introduces contemporary scenographic works from around the world and the future through the lens of scenographers. The exhibition is competitive and presents artists chosen by the partner institutions from the participating country or region - e.g. by the local minister of culture, significant non-state cultural organizaton etc. Each participating country or region can present only one exposition according to equal exhibitory conditions.
The Student Exhibition is competitive as well. It shows the artworks of students or graduates no longer than 5 years after graduation. As it is in the case of ECR, the exhibiting artists or creative collectives are selected by the curators of the particular country or region. Students and young scenographers will engage in portraying their personal experiences with the places where they live in order to transform these cultural knowledge into artworks emphasizing the digital possibilities and audience engagement.
The awards for ECR and the Student Exhibition will be given by the PQ Jury of seven members, consisting of professionals and theorists from the fields of architecture, scenography, performance, design and dance.
Other programme sections
Project Fragments II calls for artists exploring the possibilities of viewed and perceived on different scales, appertaining to spatial design and scenography. Scene models, costume designs, props or miniatures become fully-fledged artworks. These artefacts illustrate the thoughts and intentions of superior work, however, they create their own context, a new dimension and aesthetically artistic value of original perspective and profound depth.
Performance Space Exhibition asks to consider how the post-pandemic world will treat the performance spaces as platforms enabling communication and encounter. We will investigate newly emerging virtual spaces and their effects on the communities that assemble there.
PQ Performance is a celebration of the forces and tensions between an author, space, technologies and materials. A performer creates an unprecedented contact with their audience, a previously unknown shape of reality, something rare.
PQ Studio is a platform for innovative approaches and development, a unique collection of international workshops: Spanning from intensive and results-driven courses, outcomes of which will become one of the exhibition parts of PQ; to exploratory ones, seeking new ways and progressive concepts.
PQ Best Publication Award is a competitive project. The presented publications need to be published between 2019 and 2023. The aim of the award is to support the authors and spread knowledge about the extensive research executed in the field of contemporary theatre. The project turns the attention of experts, and established and beginning scenographers to new methods of visual and material dramaturgy, theatre architecture, creative techniques and practices.
The last project of PQ 2023 is a discussion forum PQ Talks. This project brings together aspiring students, experienced designers, scholars and enthusiasts. Furthermore, PQ Talks are conducted as a critical discussion of the ongoing global problems we are facing: pandemic, climate change, racism, and their connection to live arts. The project consists of discussion panels, flash talks, and presentations, reflecting and enriching the current discourse in scenography and performance design.
PQ as a platform
Apart from the key parts of the festival, Prague Quadrennial works as an international platform for organizing artistic activities and their critical reflection, continuously cooperating with partner organizations, creative professionals, artists, researchers and theorists. The specific example is the Knowledge Exchange Platform project, which connects international expert online open-source magazines focused on scenography and performance design.