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Wózeczek stał się w spektaklu symbolem wspomnienia dzieciństwa. Czytamy w Przewodniku po spektaklu: „Idziemy ku przodowi w przyszłość, / równocześnie zagłębiając się w rejony / PRZESZŁOŚCI, czyli ŚMIERCI. (...) / Siedzę na scenie, / JA — rzeczywisty, lat 70... / nigdy już nie stanę się na nowo / chłopcem, gdy miałem 6 lat... / wiem o tym, ale pragnienie jest / nieprzeparte, / nieustanne, / napełnia całe moje istnienie... / W drzwiach zjawia się / MAŁY ŻOŁNIERZYK — dziecko / JA — GDY MIAŁEM 6 LAT, / na dziecinnym wózeczku / (na moim wózeczku!)”.

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This object was created for the spectacle of Cricot 2 Theatre, “Let the Artists Die”. The premiere of the play took place at the Alte Giesserei in Nuremberg on 2 June 1985. 
The little trolley in the play became a symbol of childhood memories. In the Guide to the spectacle we can read:

“We are moving forward into the future, / at the same time delving into the area of the / PAST, that is DEATH. (...) / I’m sitting on the stage, / I—actual me, at the age of 70... / I will never again become / a boy, when I was 6 years old... / I know about it, but the desire is / irresistible, / perpetual, / fills my whole existence... / At the door appears /  A LITTLE SOLDIER—a child / ME—WHEN I WAS 6 YEARS OLD, / on a little child’s trolley / (on my little trolley!).

The idea of a child’s trolley as a reconstruction of the object from his own memory, as well as the boy’s character, had already appeared in Kantor’s thought in 1979, during the preparation of the play Wielopole, Wielopole. In the essay Miejsce teatralne (A Theatre Location), the artist described his idea in this way:

THE TROLLEY, which the creator of Wielopole, Wielopole rode when he was a few years old. / A memory machine. The uneasily reconstructed work of its mechanism resembled the bitterness of recalling childhood in a memory. / Only a drawing remained from the reflections on Wielopole in the performance.

However, the artist gave this idea up. The boy’s character and the childhood memories related to him are topics constantly recurring in Tadeusz Kantor’s theatrical, pictorial, and drawing work.
He returned to it in the next performance discussed here. The idea of the Trolley was present in the concept of the performance from the very beginning. The creator wondered if he should have ridden it himself. He decided, however, to add a little boy into the cast who was supposed to be him when he had been six years old.
The boy on his draisine trolley appears in the performance several times (the character was played then by ten-year-old Michał Gorczyca). He is accompanied by the entourage of the generals from child’s dreams, he sometimes falls off the trolley and seeks help from his mother. However, above all, this object exposes how the mechanism of recalling works—with the slenderness of reconstructed plates—which are accompanied by longing and nostalgia as well as the awareness of the unavoidable evanescence. The “Driving lesson“ scene is very important, as there is the recall (“summoning“) of the specific scene from childhood: learning to ride the trolley. The subsequent plates overlap, the mother figure who had taught him this activity, barefoot and in short pants, a sequence of hand movements forwards and backwards, and crowds shouting behind the boy with delight.
In the second half of the 1980s, Tadeusz Kantor created a drawing depicting a partially visible figure riding the same trolley against the background of the buildings of Wielopole Skrzyńskie market square, a village where the artist was born, raised, and where he had learned to ride the trolley. We see bare feet, outlines of hands, in one of them there is a card from which it appears that this is the image of Tadeusz Kantor. By writing down an extremely personal confession on it, and, at the same time, a declaration of his feelings, he returned to the years of his childhood and the moment of play on his beloved little trolley. In the drawing, like in the performance, the cyclical nature of existence is emphasized, returning to the point at which everything began.
A draisine trolley is an object on four wheels, with a shaft and a structure with a saddle. The vehicle was set in motion by moving the shaft forward and backward. It was very important for Kantor that this trolley would look exactly as in his memories. The construction was improved several times under the supervision of the artist, according to the pattern recalled in his memory.


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

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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 Krakow, 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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“Trolley” — prototype (“Let the Artists Die”, 1985)

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