PQ2015

THE PERFORMANCE ARCADE:
4 YEARS IN THE ELEMENTS

With The Prague Quadrennial focussing on Music Weather Politics next year, and the call for applications for the NZ exhibition closing this week, it is good time to look at the four years of The Performance Arcade in New Zealand. The inaugural Arcade event opened just four months before the last Prague Quadrennial, which featured the Intersections exhibition – an event and architecture that shares much in common with the Arcade. Now, with this new theme for PQ, we look back over images from the past five presentations of The Performance Arcade at how various climates have shaped the architecture of this event:

The Performance Arcade is an ongoing project that constructs performance architecture in public spaces to create ‘accidental audiences’ and escape the disciplined environments of the theatre building or fine art gallery. In doing so, it exposes performance to the various conditions of the city that the theatre or gallery often protect those works from: thus weather conditions, economies of spectation, as well as cultural climates play a large role in affecting the works and their containing architecture. The porous relationship between interior (framed) conditions and exterior elements is a constant dynamic of this project, destabilizing conventional assumptions about the role of theatre architecture. This interest goes further in the development of the individual artworks, the curation of the event, and the assembly of an overall architecture for each Arcade. Familiar processes are reversed, with the works themselves determining the overall layout, replacing the monumental preoccupations of theatre builders with a transient, momentary construction that emerges from the fabric of the city, then returns its constituent parts (containers, scaffolding, equipment) back into this system at the end of the event. Overall themes emerge out of the works selected for each year, and in 2014 the Arcade chose the title ‘In Construction’ for its defining concept. Thus, the architecture, programme, and curation of the event revolved around the processes of making ready, building, and preparation as meaningful acts in themselves. Reviewing images of these presentations it is possible to appreciate the defining role that weather plays in this outdoor performance event: bringing new emotions and meanings to the open, receptive surfaces of the works and architecture. Other ‘climates’ have affected the event in similar ways: such as the ‘Occupy Auckland’ movement camping next to the Auckland 2011 presentation. In this way, The Performance Arcade is an event and environment that exposes itself to the elements rather than rejecting them, employing politics, passing audiences, parallel events, the surrounding city, and the weather into the construction of a complex ‘architecture’ for/of performance.

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