Lab Project

Conakry Play Urban

[A]FA collaborated with a team of scenographers, theatre directors and artists as part of the performance festival Univers des Mots in Conakry, Guinea. The collaboration took place in 2019 and was conceptualized as a transdisciplinary, transcultural project by [A]FA, Play>Urban (Scenography, Haute école des arts du Rhin, Strasbourg; Jean Christophe Lanquetin and François Duconseille), and Bilia Bah and Hakim Bah (artistic directors, Univers des Mots, Conakry). Urban space(s) were identified and transformed as places for performance, theatre and gathering for a festival dedicated to artistic creations, urban intervening, and (environmental) debates, with a program comprised of about 30 productions. The notion and practice of urban acupuncture guided spatial, scenographic, artistic and performative interventions. For [A]FA, the collaboration turned out to be about realizing ad‐hoc stagings in Conakry´s neighborhoods Nongo, Kipé and Kaporo.

With a very limited time frame and budget, the team designed and realized “The Portique”, a lightweight structure made from metal and textile strings, which framed the entrances of the theatre spaces of the Festival Univers Des Mots in the selected neighborhoods. The installative piece emphasized the threshold between two spatial conditions, the street and the compound, inside and outside, (semi‐)private and public, formal and informal. It aimed to generate a transgression between the selected locations of the festival and the surrounding city, between the world of theatre and the rhythms and dynamics of daily urban life. While exploring and negotiating the specific urban context, the team was keen on thinking about contextual and transcultural approaches to artistic urban intervening.

What parameters could generate truly contextual approaches in such a transcultural, transdisciplinary project setting? In 2020, members of the [A]FA Conakry Play Urban team reflected on the 2019 lab and the above-mentioned topics, which resulted in a publication, a public discussion, and an urban intervention as part of the 2021 Angewandte Festival in Vienna, Austria.