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Tadeusz Kantor Today

Metamorphoses of Death, Memory and Presence- Translated by Anda MacBride


Edited By Katarzyna Fazan, Anna R. Burzynska and Marta Brys

This book is a compendium of texts by international authors which reflect on Tadeusz Kantor’s art in a broad range of contexts. The studies include works of prominent art historians, theatrologists and artists. The present revisiting of Kantor’s artistic œuvre reflects a contemporary historiographic approach. The authors place value on individual memory and consider contemporary art outside the traditional boundaries of particular artistic genres. The studies employ the latest strategies for researching theatrical performance as autonomous statements, without a literary anchor. Thanks to this approach, the eschatological and historical issues, crucial to the sphere of reference of Kantor’s Theatre of Death, have acquired a new presence – as art that liberates thinking in the here-and-now.
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Anna R. Burzyńska – Returns of the Rhinoceros


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Returns of the Rhinoceros

Anna R. Burzyńska

Jagiellonian University

1. The Rhinoceros leaves Lisbon

The most recent and spectacular return of the Lisbon rhinoceros took place in 2008, when it became the protagonist of a huge (the animal was depicted life-size) painting Loss of the Lisbon Rhinoceros1 by Walton Ford, a contemporary American painter, who in his works, stylised as colonial illustrations, focuses on the relations between people and animals. Or, rather, he portrays the individual reflected in an animalistic Other.

Ford’s painting shows a ship sinking in a storm; a terrified rhinoceros, his legs bound, tries in vain to escape from the wave-swept deck. The moment of the animal’s death will at the same time be the instant of its rebirth as a myth, a symbol, a work of art. The end and the beginning of an endless journey.

The nameless rhinoceros, portrayed by Ford, had been a gift, in 1515, of the Sultan of Khambhat to the Portuguese Governor of Goa, in turn to be sent to Lisbon. King Emmanuel I, enchanted with the unusual gift – the first rhinoceros to be seen in Europe since Roman days – arranged for it to have a gladiator fight with a young elephant from his menagerie, in order to find out whether Pliny had been correct in writing that the elephant and the rhinoceros were mortal enemies (the elephant scarpered; the fight did not take place)...

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