Tadeusz Kantor (1915 - 1990) is one of the giants of modern Polish culture. A director, designer, visual artist and theorist, Kantor had an astounding career in which he tested the boundaries of artistic disciplines. This exhibition features his work alongside that of the contemporary Polish artists Pawel Althamer, Katarzyna Kozyra, Robert Kusmirowski and Artur Zmijewski. Curated by Sabine Folie and Hanna Wroblewska
An exhibition of art from Poland
curated by Sabine Folie and Hanna Wroblewska
Tadeusz Kantor (1915 - 1990) is one of the giants of modern Polish culture. A director, designer, visual artist and theorist, Kantor had an astounding career in which he tested the boundaries of artistic disciplines. This exhibition features his work alongside that of the contemporary Polish artists Pawel Althamer, Katarzyna Kozyra, Robert Kusmirowski and Artur Zmijewski.
The exhibition features material relating to many of Kantor’s pioneering works. These include Panoramic Sea Happening (1967), where a conductor directed the natural sounds of the sea. Another major work is the installation Pillory II (1985), originally part of a stage set and reminiscent of medieval stocks. Many preparatory drawings, props and documents relating to Kantor’s productions will be showcased, including material from his staging of Witkiewicz’s The Water Hen in 1967.
Kantor’s revolutionary approach to performance is reflected in the work of the contemporary Polish artists who are exhibited alongside him. Many of the works draw on what Kantor called ‘the lowest ranking reality’ - debased objects, people and customs.
Althamer is showing a specially conceived performance, Staff en Plein Air, in which security staff of Zacheta gallery, Warsaw, become improvising actors of the work. The group will travel to London where they will experience the cultural life of the city and will replace the staff of The Curve for one day (Friday 3 February).
Kozyra’s work investigates issues surrounding identity, cultural taboos and transgression. She has created a new work for The Curve continuing her ongoing series of outrageous performances as an opera diva,In Art Dreams Come True. Each performance explores the possibility of failure and humiliation. On Thursday 2 March at 6.30pm in The Curve, Katarzyna Kozyra will give a talk about her work.
Kusmirowski is known for creating sculptures that mimic reality and examine the notion of the original. His contribution to the exhibition is a replica of an empty classroom, inspired by Kantor’s play The Dead Class (1975).
Zmijewski has made a number of films and photographs that show people with physical or mental disabilities overcoming their limitations. The exhibition features Singing Lesson II (2003), a video in which a group of hearing-impaired youths are taught to sing a cantata by Bach.
The Impossible Theatre has been curated by Sabine Folie and Hanna Wroblewska and organised by Kunsthalle Wien in collaboration with Barbican Art Gallery and Zacheta - National Gallery Of Art, Warsaw. The new works by Pawel Althamer and Katarzyna Kozyra have been produced by Barbican Art Gallery in association with the Polish Cultural Institute, London.
Coinciding with the exhibition is a double-bill of electrifying performances by the pioneering Polish theatre company, Gardzienice Centre for Theatre Practices, in The Pit, 1 - 11 February. A weekend of talks and events accompany the performances.
Image: Artur Zmijewski, An Eye for an Eye, 1998, Courtesy the artist
Barbican Art Gallery
Silk Street - London