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Door are a key element of the play Let the Artists Die of Cricot 2 Theater. The premiere was held at the Alte Giesserei in Nuremberg June 2, 1985 year. 
Place of action is CEMETERY WAREHOUSE the door opens DOORMAN (ONCE UPON A TIME, HAD THE NAME OF CHARON, CARRIER OF THE DEAD). Composition, referring explicitly to the earlier of five years play Wielopole, Wielopole, turns into a room where lasts, constantly renewed, short daily activities.
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In fact, it is both of them in the cycle of interpenetrating clichés. In the programme of the spectacle, the artist defines the main building material of the performance as follows:

“Not: a place of action defined by the scene, but: overlapping MEMORY CLICHÉS / recalled from the FUTURE, / impersonating into present, appearing out of the blue. They mix objects, people, situations ... and in this crazy practice, lose any logic existing in life (...).”[1]

The construction of the clichés is associated with the character of Tadeusz Kantor, who introduces himself to the list of “the people of the drama“ in several dimensions. Firstly, I, the real figure, the main perpetrator of everything, TADEUSZ KANTOR, refers to the character of the artist present on the stage during the performance as an active observer, undertaking appropriate corrections. He sat mostly on a chair at the side of the stage. In rare moments, when he could not be present during the show, mainly due to illness, a sign with the inscription, “Kantor“, was hung on his chair. The actors on stage turned towards him.
Secondly, he appears on stage as a little boy — “WHEN I WAS 6 YEARS OLD“— presenting memories of his childhood in the form of clichés . In the next area, there is a confrontation between the past and the future. Thus, Kantor presents himself as a dying person (the novel by Zbigniew Uniłowski, Shared room, in which the reader is a witness of the hero of the song dying, was a direct inspiration).
The artist wanted dying to become a theme of Let the Artists Die, so that “it would be a ‘binder’, combining various symptoms of life, almost becoming  the s t r u c t u r e of the spectacle“[2].
In the performance, Let the Artists Die, a huge part was played by the door during the artist’s recalling of the past and its projection on the stage. It was made of aged wood, in the aesthetics of “the lowest rank“, characteristic of the entire performance. It was placed in the middle of a wall of black canvas, marking the shape of the stage.
The Door rose from the wardrobe, which originally was to house the Mariacki Altar. Originally, the altar – designed by Kantor as an expression of polemics with the work of Veit Stoss from St. Mary’s Basilica – was to be located in the closet. While working on the performance, wooden props and constructions, that were supposed to maintain the saints’ poses in the altar, were transformed into medieval pillars and moved from the wardrobe to the stage. The altar in the closet was supposed to have beem built to bring the pathetic concept of the altar to the reality of everyday life (initially Wit Stwosz was presented as an ordinary craftsman, sawing the elements of the altar). Finally, it was created from this wardrobe – the key object in the spectacle Let the Artists Die.
All of the characters, along with the objects, went through the door – both one way and the other. Their role (similar to that of the door in the performance Wielopole, Wielopole) could be compared to a function of school desks in The Dead Class:

They were like a bearing (matrice), from which something new, unexpected was born, something that for a time tried to go beyond the benches, into this black and empty space, and something that was coming back and kept away from them each time as if it was the home ... [3].

Along with the cyclical opening/closing of the door, new scenes appeared, and the characters and situations known to us came back, mixing clichés and themes with each other. Crossing the threshold of the door was related to a change in status, introducing a different quality.
The concept of a “Poor Room of Imagination“ had already crystallized in the performance, Niech sczezną artyści [Let the Artists Die], Cricot 2 Theatre (1985), where the place of action was defined by the artist as a borderland of dream regions – infernum – the world of the dead, eternity, and today. The idea was initiated in the spectacle Wielopole, Wielopole, where the artist reconstructed his “Room from Childhood“ on stage (see: the window from the performance Wielopole, Wielopole). Kantor combined this idea with his room – a studio at 7/5 Sienna Street – where he worked from 1987).

Elaborated by Małgorzata Paluch-Cybulska (The Cricoteka Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor), © all rights reserved


[1] T. Kantor, Klisze, [in:] T. Kantor, Pisma, Vol. III: Dalej już nic... Teksty z lat 1985–1990, elab. K. Pleśniarowicz, Wrocław–Kraków 2004–2005, p. 24;
[2] T. Kantor, Sfera śmierci, [in:] T. Kantor, Pisma, Vol. III: Dalej już nic... Teksty z lat 1985–1990, elab. K. Pleśniarowicz, Wrocław–Kraków 2004–2005, p. 12;
[3] T. Kantor, Ławki w „Umarłej klasie”, [in:] T. Kantor, Pisma. Vol. 2: Teatr Śmierci. Teksty z lat 1975-1984, elab. K. Pleśniarowicz, Wrocław-Kraków 2004, p. 404.

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The symbolism of the door in theatrical performances by Kantor

The symbolism of a door is to some extent universal — common to different cultures and religions. Because a door is always on the border, its significance, first of all, is revealed at the moment of crossing a threshold. It illustrates the existence of opposition and the transition from one state to another.

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The symbolism of a door is to some extent universal — common to different cultures and religions. Because a door is always on the border, its significance, first of all, is revealed at the moment of crossing a threshold. It illustrates the existence of opposition and the transition from one state to another. In the performance, Let the artists die, it is the state between life and death, the beginning (the memory of childhood) and the end (the vision of one’s dying). The doors were movable, moving in one of the scenes with the character; being at one of the sides spun out the definition.
The motif is related to the series of Kantor’s drawings, created in the 1970s and 1980s, entitled, Lattesa molto importante [Very important expectation]. They represent the figure of a man waiting at the door. The artist explained one such work in 1986 , created for the poster of the Cricot 2 Theater in Bari, under the same title: “Probably waiting for death”. Therefore, it is about “THE PREMONITION OF THE DIFFERENT WORLD, / THE CONCEPT OF DEATH, / IMPATIENT EXPECTATION AT THE DOOR, / OUTSIDE WHICH / THE AREAS INACCESSIBLE TO OUR SENSES/AND CONCEPTS EXTEND...”
The door was a very important object in almost all performances of the Cricot 2 Theater, beginning from Nadobnisie i koczkodany [Dainty shapes and hairy apes] (1973). In every performance, they were the place of transition between life and death, the moment of brushing against finality. In cricotage, Maszyna miłości i śmierci [Machine of love and death], in the first part of the performance, the “sign of emergency and danger”, which appears twice, is connected to the opening of the iron door. In their last play, the characters recalled by Kantor in his own memories and remembrances pass through “THE DOOR OF DEATH”.

Elaborated by Małgorzata Paluch-Cybulska (The Cricoteka Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor), © all rights reserved

See “Door” (“Let the Artists Die”, 1985).

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“Let the Artists Die”

During the vernissage at the Galerie de France in 1983, Kantor met Gerhard Schmidt (the owner of one of the most renowned galleries in Nuremberg), who convinced him to prepare an artistic project related to the 450th anniversary of the death of Wit Stwosz. Kantor did not approach the above idea enthusiastically, but he expressed his fascination with the nail, which probably pierced the cheeks of the author of the St. the Mary’s Basilica altar.

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Where did the name of the performance come from?

During the vernissage at the Galerie de France in 1983, Kantor met Gerhard Schmidt (the owner of one of the most renowned galleries in Nuremberg), who convinced him to prepare an artistic project related to the 450th anniversary of the death of Wit Stwosz. Kantor did not approach the above idea enthusiastically, but he expressed his fascination with the nail, which probably pierced the cheeks of the author of the St. the Mary’s Basilica altar. The history of an outstanding artist, who got involved not only with Kraków, but, above all, with Nuremberg, for him was an example perfectly illustrating the thesis that artists are the victims of society.
The owner of the gallery, Catherine Thieck, joined in the conversation, quoting a certain exemplum, when, during the renovation of the tenement she decided to mount additional doors to increase the safety of works of art deposited in the gallery, she was forced to obtain the consent of all the co-tenants of the building. One of the shrews (quarrelsome women of easy virtue) present at the meeting, who did not share her enthusiasm, as well as the arguments of Catherine Thieck, expressing her indignation with an “irrational idea”, exclaimed: “Let the artists die!” Kantor took these words up, using them as the title of the performance, which, despite initial doubts, he agreed to realize.


Elaborated by Editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

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

 

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“Door” (“Let the Artists Die”, 1985)

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