Emergence awakens curiosity in people about places and situations that have come to pass 


Interview with Markéta Fantová


“Emergence awakens curiosity in people about places and situations that have come to pass. That we’re looking at history through the lens of scenography is truly unique. It’s necessary to promote the idea that scenography today no longer has any boundaries, it’s not static. Scenography, especially in the Emergence project, is about a remarkable experience to be perceived with all the senses.”

What’s the main goal of the Emergence project? 

To arouse interest in our audience and visitors in stories concealed within the collective memory of selected European locations. These selected locations are connected with complicated moments in history, and books and the press often refuse to speak about them. The project has a degree of socio-political overlap and the potential to address the greater public. When we succeed in uncovering the history of problematic places, naturally it evokes emotion. The emotions hidden in these locations serve as the basis for new scenographies, immersive performances, and installations. Forced evacuations, abandoned buildings… They bear witness to a story that’s both human and political and from which we can draw inspiration for new scenographic, performance, and architectural-urbanistic projects. Such as in Kiev or Cypress, for example. In dance and movement-based performances, for instance, we engage in deformation of movement in order to make it inconspicuous in dangerous places, like Mariupol.  


What makes the project unique?

We use scenography to look inside places with a rich history. We make new findings about that history with spatial-stenographic devices. Today, our understanding of stenographic space extends beyond the theatre to any space that we can transform through performance and dance into a place for sharing stories, emotions, and experiences. All the places we’ve chosen for our project possess a strong genius loci, and we work with it.  

From a practical standpoint, the simplicity of the project lies in the fact that we’re the only Czech entity to receive a grant of this type on this scale.  


How long does it take to prepare a project like this?

The preparation of a grant like Emergence is a long-term commitment. Because in the beginning we didn’t know what we were getting into and were learning the Creative Europe grant system at the same time we were creating the PQ 2019 vision, which the projects had to blend together with, it truly was a lot for such a small team to handle. As the main coordinators, we were also responsible for acquiring grant partners and overseeing all communication with them. On top of that, the overall project has to be created in collaboration with partners, not merely designed by one of the partners, because it’s all supposed to be – and in our case definitely is – about balanced collaboration. All in all, preparation of the project took about four months. 


Who’s the project intended for?

It’s a well-thought-out combination of participants configured to facilitate the transfer of experiences, knowledge, and inspiration. The project encompasses groups of students from partner countries, artists, and then also scientists, theorists, political scientists, and curators. Our goal is to demonstrate that age doesn’t matter – inspiration and art bring all generations together. The project is intended for anyone who’s not afraid to explore and take part in new and sometimes controversial projects.  


For a lot of people, scenography is a static affair. You, however, are trying to disprove that. How?  

For a number of reasons, mainly to make it possible to even describe what the field of scenography is about, scenography resorts to various types of categorization, which form boundaries in places where, in reality, there are none. For example, with scenography, in reality there are no clear boundaries between light and the stage, the stage and a costume, or an actor and an object. Take the costumes worn by an opera chorus, for example, which often become the actual scenography and the movement of the chorus creating important scenic changes. In our project, we erase the boundaries between individual scenographic disciplines and make use of places that, all on their own, inspire interventions offering a deeper immersive experience.   


Markéta Fantová
The stage, lighting, and costume designer for theatre, dance, and performing arts. She has worked for theatres, galleries, and other visual projects in the USA and Europe. Her costumes and theatre designs appeared in the American national exhibition at Prague Quadrennial 2007 as well as at World Stage Design v Seoul, South Korea (2009). Currently, she lives in Prague, where she is the artistic director for Prague Quadrennial.