Cricotage by Tadeusz Kantor

What is cricotage?
Kantor wrote: “Cricotage is not a happening; it means that it does not have an ‘open form’ capable of being receptive to the audience’s participation“.
Cricotage is not identical to performance art while it is understood as an act in space using the performer’s body, yet

“it does not renounce emotional states and strong tension. Cricotage deals with REALITY
liberated from any «plot».
Its fragments, relics and traces,
freed from IMAGINATION,
being an affront to any conventions and common sense,
are linked
to such a degree of endurance,
they may be torn apart and disintegrated
at any moment.
This impression of
danger
and constantly threatening
disaster
is an important feature of Cricotage“.

What did the idea look like in practice? The first cricotage took place at the Society of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 1965. In the cafe area, Kantor’s friends performed simple daily activities for an hour. They ate, sat, shaved and carried coal. Despite terminological divisions introduced by the author of Cricot 2, many theatre theorists consider this date as the beginning of happenings in Poland. A developing field of experiments with form, which straddled the border between life and art, resulted in further projects, including the most well known Panoramic Marine Happening. During this performance Kantor became the conductor of a show of nature while standing on a chair facing the sea.
Apart from the action of 1965, Kantor himself defined the following performances as cricotage: Gdzie są niegdysiejsze śniegi [Where Is Last Years Snow] the title of which was taken from Ballad of the Ladies of Times Past by Francois Villon, Ślub [The Wedding] of 1986, Maszyna miłości i śmierci [Machine of Love and Death] of 1987, Bardzo krótka lekcja [A Very Short Lesson], and Cicha noc [The Silent Night] – performed in Avignon in 1990.

Elaborated by Anna Berestecka (Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See “The Trumpet of the Last Judgement” (“Where Are Last Year’s Snows”, 1979)