Intersection: Intimacy and Spectacle
Architectural design By Oren Sagiv



Author of text: Oren Sagiv

Designing Intersection: Intimacy and Spectacle, the interactive event of the Prague Quadrennial, was an architectural experiment questioning the space of theatre and the space of art – and, at the same time – the form that the meeting of the artistic and the everyday might take in today’s city public realm.

The curatorial theme of the Intersection project seeks to evoke the blurring of borders between theatre and visual arts and to evoke space as a medium for interaction of the public with art in both disciplines. It also examines a collision of the somewhat negating concepts of spectacle and intimacy.

In past years, all Prague Quadrennial’s interactive events took place in the central hall of Prague’s Industrial Palace; following last year’s fire damage to the Industrial Palace it was decided to situate the upcoming event in the midst of Prague’s public realm. the theatre square, a vast open space located between the 19th century National theatre building and the communist era ‚Laterna Magika‘ buildings was chosen as our site.

The temporary structure designed for the project seeks to add a layer to these interminglings by bluntly intersecting the unique artistic event with the everyday life of the city, deliberately making both activities ‘leak’ into each other. addressing the intermingling of theatre and visual art together with the concept of intimacy, the first image we have formulated was of several room-size black boxes and white cubes (micro ‘ideal theatres’ and ‘ideal galleries’) that are 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 – a simple layout that, while providing the necessary interiors for artistic activities, also articulates the otherwise vacant public space – exposed an opportunity to bring an additional element into our intersection: the quality of the anonymous, public intimacy that large cities provide.

From this moment on the process of the design has a parallel structure: the 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 boxes form a micro ‘art town’ with its ‘streets’ and ‘courtyards’ designed to cohere with the curatorial syntax. at the same time, the square’s original urban program is kept as a popular pedestrian shortcut.

 

At the same time, a particular exterior was developed for the boxes: a Public Shell that is made for the everyday life of the city – a wooden landscape that is bounded on-top and around the art boxes. the new landscape of the shell is making seating areas, a café-Bar and an open air cinema. the shell calls for an independent 24-hour event of public intimacy, making the prosaic social engagement another performance of the Intersection project.

The café-Bar nests amidst the boxes and is supported by them. By juxtaposing individual ‘ideal’ section-lanes a surface consisting of seating and service areas is programmed. 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. 

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