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Tadeusz Kantor Today

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

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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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Wojciech Owczarski – The Theatre of Dreams in The Theatre of Death

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The Theatre of Dreams in The Theatre of Death

Wojciech Owczarski

In his The Milano Lessons Tadeusz Kantor confessed:

I DON’T REALLY BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF DREAMS / where, according to the surrealists, imagination is born. / I am certain that INTENSIFIED PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESSES, / THE INTENSITY OF THINKING, RESULT IN FREEDOM / OF IMAGINATION, CONNOTATIONS, / THEY CAUSE US TO ABANDON / RATIONAL CONNECTIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS, AND THE UTILITARIAN RATIONALE / OF LINKING REAL ELEMENTS. (III, 94)1

Four years later, just before he died, the artist was to affirm his previous stance:

Although I come from Surrealism (…), I have denied imagination born out of dreams. I have maintained that I do not dream, that my Poor Room of Imagination is a black hole into which various objects fall in from outside… (III, 397)

This professed mistrust of dreaming is flagrantly at odds with the artist’s evident fascination with the world of dreams, which Kantor demonstrated on many occasions, especially in his writings. Krzysztof Pleśniarowicz has long since pointed out that soon after the war, in 1945, Kantor staged The Worthy and the Unworthy One, a drama by Józef Czechowicz, at the Academic Theatre in Krakow, and that the oneiric themes present in the drama were close to Kantor’s own imagination, as can be seen in The Dead Class.2 Let’s add that references to dreaming appeared in Kantor’s writings almost from...

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