Wow. It has been an hectic week with a lot of action, problems, mishaps, hospitals, thunderstorms, communication issues, lost keys and thefts but also a week of sunshine, encounters, amazement, inspiration and five beautiful performances here in Prague. The Prague Quadrennial is still going on until the 16th of June, but our performances are done for this event. We will have a seminar talk about the performance on the 13th of June as a part of a seminar for all the Finnish participants.
It has been very interesting to see how the performance has changed in the city landscape. First of all it was quite hard to find a place to perform, since there aren’t so many options in the city. As I’ve written before the camera needs to be placed so that the lense is facing north, and there should be enough room for the performance too, not to mention permissions and other activities going on in the citys public space. Important was also that the place itself holds some significance as a performance area. Finally we settled for the northern tip of Střelecký Ostrov – an island in the middle of Vltava with a view facing the famous Charles bridge.
The biggest difference however compared to the landscapes in Finland has been the people. During our tour in Finland the presence of humans in the landscape came solely from us and the audience. Now when we performed in the park the image was full of people just sitting, standing, walking, lying down and otherwise using the public room for leisure or other activities. This changes very much how the performers are seen in the landscape, not anymore like something alien, but more of something else entirely. This, I believe, creates also some disturbance and turbulence inside the camera when the audience has a harder time to figure out who is the performer and who isn’t. The gentle presence of humans in the landscape is changed to a situation where the human presence is a given parameter – a part of the scener from the very minute it starts taking over the landscape entirely.
This creates an interesting line of though for me, which actually is a very suitable continuum on the previous perfomances in Finland. When moving from wilderness to a city it becomes also very evident (in the preformance perspective) how humans are affecting and taking over more and more space. This is of course a huge issue on the global scale too as our population growth is putting even more pressure on the planetary boundaries. So in this sense the performance in the heart of Prague was a great next step.
The presence of humans in the landscape and our stage created also a small problem with the choreography and our performers. The intensity of the stage work changes entirely when the areas outside the camera image (where the performers prepare and are off stage) doesn’t exist anymore. It was also surprisingly hard to keep the performance area open so that the performance could be realised without walking over anyones picknick.
The walking meditation through the citys busiest tourist streets was an very interesting experience that many in the audience loved a lot. They had never experienced the crowds without the overwhelming noise so it was an literally eyeopening experience for many. I also found it very special to start the performance with a walk through a city instead of a forest or other landscape. It didn’t trigger that much my feeling of my steps on the ground but gave me time to smell, look and feel a lot more of what was going on around me. Simultaneously my breathing calmed me down in the crowded streets which made me almost enjoy the tourist masses.
Here are a few images of from our performance.