Between Realities has been a collective research project; an investigation into public space from the perspective of scenography. It has been an attempt to try out and employ artistic tools and ways of thinking in the city centre of Prague, to see what they would reveal or help us to understand both public space and scenography. For 10 days Prague 1, the historical city centre, the protected Unesco site packed with famous highlights has been the stage for our research, our playground, our laboratory.
One can get easily lost in Prague’s little streets that never follow straight lines and are full of people. Lost in space, lost in time, lost in stories and in between realities. Throughout these 10 days, our Outpost Truck has been a steady beacon in the turmoil of the city centre. It found a temporary home at Rytirska 10. The truck was our base camp, WiFi spot, power plug, water supplier, temporary bed, information hub and meeting point all in one. It marked our presence in the city and it attracted attention, but it did so in a strange, subtle kind of way. Yes, packed in white shrinking foil and with our slogans taped to both sides, it stood out clearly, distinct from all the other vehicles parked in the street. But at the same time it was also just a van like any other, from a company you had never heard of, ready to drive off after having delivered goods to a shop in the street. Our Outpost Truck succesfully managed to blend in and stand out at the same time.
Encountering the truck from the front, people would see a normal van and only in passing, they would read the texts, turn their head and to their surprise, see a small office at the rear, with people working in it. Our Outpost Truck made casual passersby look twice, check their pace for a moment, but not stop them dead in their tracks. A small poetic gesture in the banality of the street. A fleeting moment of surprise, confusion or bewilderment.
Within days it was as if the van had always been here on this street, on this spot. Part of the scenery, ready to become part of the folklore, people telling each other stories about how they vividly they remember the day the truck had appeared on the street out of nowhere. People and things come and go in the city, sometimes they stay, but the stage is never fixed and there is a constant change of scenes. A lot has happened during the short period of time our Outpost Truck was parked at Rytirksa 10.
Our truck appeared on stage, while a bench close by disappeared. Apparently the authorities were not happy with the invitation it extended to beggars to sit, eat, sleep and drink on it, and decided it had to go. While the bench made a forced exit, a blue chair on a red pole entered the scene. Up till today we still haven’t found out how it got there, but people in the street started to realize that our truck was not actually a truck, but an art project, part of the Prague Quadriennal, nothing to worry about and something that you could approach without any kind of danger. Apparently not only in the theatre, but also on the streets, objects can transform themselves and take on another meaning, depending on how they are framed or what we choose to see in them.
The refuse bins situated next to our truck know all about this. Here the local shops and residents come to throw away their garbage, mainly cardboard boxes. But because the bins are often full, boxes are piled up next to them. What seem like ordinary cardboard boxes to some provides raw artistic material for others as became clear when a man came to cut out stories and transformed the pile of waste cardboard into a storyboard.
The cardboard could only briefly enjoy its newly acquired status as art. When the garbage men came to empty the bins they did not hesitate to pick everything up and clear the site. After the applause had died away – yes, they did look a bit surprised – it looked as if nothing out of ordinary had happened. But those who witnessed the scene still know what potential these bins harbour.
Conitue reading at TALKING AND WALKING OUR WAY BACK: THE ROUTE