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PQ > AN INTERVIEW WITH OREN SAGIV, ARCHITECT OF THE INTERSECTION PROJECT ON THE PIAZZETTA OF THE NATIONAL

AN INTERVIEW WITH OREN SAGIV, ARCHITECT OF THE INTERSECTION PROJECT ON THE PIAZZETTA OF THE NATIONAL

23. 5. 2011, 14:56

Intersection is a special project of this year’s Prague Quadrennial. It will take place on the National Theatre’s Piazzetta, located between the theatre’s historic and modern buildings. The Piazzetta will be occupied by a jumble of variously sized white and black cube-like objects, in which viewers will find installations and performances by thirty renowned artists from all over the world. The entire installation has been designed by Israeli architect Oren Sagiv.

In the past, the PQ’s interactive project has always taken place in the Industrial Palace. This is the first year that it will be staged outside of the main PQ site. Did you find it more interesting to design the site for Intersection in an open space than inside the Art Nouveau palace?
For everyone involved, the fact that the Industrial Palace burned down during preparations for the PQ was primarily a shock, but then we approached it as a challenge to find a new approach to the project. Working in an open space is not better than in an interior, but it is significantly different. The new location on the piazzetta brought a new set of questions and forced us to look for a new approach to creating the project. The central hall of the Industrial Palace is a beautiful location, but it is a totally different place to work in than such an open space.

Do you prefer sites such as the piazzetta? Do you prefer to work in public spaces?
If I had to choose, I would choose work in public spaces. My instinct as an architect tends to lead me outside, into the city. Not into interiors, where you are enclosed in a kind of box.

Were you familiar with the individual works of art before you began to work on the design for Intersection?
No. The purpose was to create a kind of framework, an idea for how to create a performance space. I knew only very little about the art project as a whole and I was familiar with just a few of the artists who will participate in it, but I had no idea as to their specific works. I created a kind of city in which the individual inhabitants will select their spaces for themselves. It is a synergy between the person who creates a quite specific framework and those who come and begin to change it. That is how it works in any city – they may look alike, but people adapt them to suit their needs. We knew from the beginning that we would need a certain level of tolerance for the fact that they will be making various changes.

What do you find most important about Intersection?
One important feature is its interaction with public life. The encounter with everyday life will be a very important aspect of the project. It will be a kind of artistic village. The boxes themselves will be shells for the performers, but they will be public shells. Taken together, they combine to create a new landscape on the piazzetta. They will be open to the public all day, and a bar will be open until late into the night. I have created a space for unplanned activities, which can now take place there.

Was your work influenced by Prague’s architecture? Are you familiar with it, and do you like Prague as a city?
I wasn’t so much influenced by Prague’s historic architecture than by the specific character of the piazzetta, i.e., the place where Intersection will take place. It is a site located between historic and modern buildings, but which serves primarily as a throughway, a shortcut, a place where people pass each other or meet. I am trying to create a space where different attitudes and ideas can come together. We will see it all in action, in reality, in front of us. Everything will take place in 30 white and black cubes, which create 30 ideal gallery and theatre spaces.

Why did you diverge from architecture, which you began to study, and devote more time to scenography? Are you more attracted to its association with visual art?
I studied architecture and visual art at the same time. I have always been interested in both; they were always a shared interest. I think that I have managed to combine both my loves: my love for architecture and space and my love for art. What I am doing now is not traditional scenography; I have only very little experience working in classical theatre. I see architecture and scenography as the act of creating space. What is important in architecture as well as in scenography is the cooperation with curators, directors, and performers. In this sense, I am still an architect, except that I understand the term more broadly, more fundamentally than as a designer of buildings. I am interested in the performativity of space, the basic idea of space, the functions of space. Architecture is the manifestation of ideas in concrete form.

Interview was conducted by Markéta Horešovská, editor ČTK