The 2023 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ), one of the leading international theater and stage design festivals in the world, recognized the community pantry-inspired installation of the Philippines with the Intercultural Exchange in Student Exhibition Award.
Themed RARE, this year’s PQ explored the ideas, approaches and materials that connected the human with the environment.
It studied the unique raw realities which artists build. Amid the uncertainties and changes, it challenged hundreds of creators from across the globe to harness their imagination and envision a post-pandemic theater and world.
Guided by this, the students, faculty, and administrators from the School of Arts, Culture, and Performance (SACP) of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB), as lone representatives from the Philippines, brought the Filipino culture of kapwa and bayanihan into the streets of Prague.
Entitled Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha batay sa pangangailangan (Give what you can, take what you need), their winning entry was a makeshift community pantry borrowed from the viral movement initiated by Ana Patricia Non in 2021.
It is a direct nod to the original Maginhawa bamboo food cart which served as a receptacle of mutual aid in response to the struggles brought about by the lockdowns. The installation featured fruit baskets, canned goods, sachets of powdered milk and coffee, as well as some familiar Filipino snacks.
It likewise included Pinoy household staples as well as huge multi-colored umbrellas often seen on food stalls.
Staying true to its inspiration, it likewise allowed the audience to acquire displayed local goods and artwork postcards in exchange “for whatever they felt like giving.”
The installation likewise came with a full karaoke system, a symbol of solidarity and hospitality common in Philippine gatherings. An inflatable air dancer served as a metaphor for courage and optimism.
In the citation by PQ, they said that “this exhibition skillfully brought people together in a joyful intercultural exchange of ‘knowledge’ and ‘gestures of care’ and reminded us of the importance of holding space for one another in a world that’s in desperate need of compassion.”
The exhibit was curated by Production Design Chairperson Ellawyn Cruz and Arts Management Chairperson Alain Zedrick Camiling. Design collaborations included Theater Arts educator Joaquin Aranda, Design Foundation Chairperson Hershey Malinis, Theater Arts Chairperson Tuxqs Rutaquio and SACP Dean Magdalena de Leon.
The project was made possible with the support from The Philippine Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic; National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA); and Metrobank Foundation together with several individual sponsors.
Apart from the showcase, select Filipino industry practitioners joined the international panels as speakers: Cruz in Pedagogical Strategies in Response to the Global Pandemic, former Theater Arts Chairperson Eric Dela Cruz in Where to From Here: Towards the Future of Scenographic Practices, and scenic artist Julia Pacificador in Teaching Performance Design with a Social Justice Lens.
PQ 2023 was conducted at the Holešovice Market, the National Gallery and The Academy of Performing Arts in the capital city of the Czech Republic.
In 2019, DLS-CSB’s interactive installation Passing Through: Lines and Borders, which spoke of the politics of migration and mobility, took home the Award for Imagination under the Student’s Exhibition Category. They were the sole Philippine representative during the 2019 PQ.