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Young Couple is an object of spectacle Cricot 2 Qui non ci torno più (I Shall Never return), which was created in Kraków and Milan in 1987–1988. The premiere took place on 23 June 1988 at the Piccolo Teatro Studio in Milan.
The play I Shall Never return is a summary of previous work of Tadeusz Kantor's theater.

The spectacle I shall never return is a summary of Tadeusz Kantor's previous theatrical work. His synthesis includes characters, objects, costumes, and mannequins, as well as motifs and entire scenes from previous performances, starting from The return of Odysseus, made in 1944 in the Underground Independent Theatre, and ending with the very last spectacle — May the artists die (1985).
I shall never return is also an autobiographical summary of Kantor's personal life, in which the artist speaks openly about his intimacy and his own condition. He transfers confessions about love or death to the stage, thus making them universal.
One of the fundamental changes that have taken place in this performance is the character of the artist's participation in the spectacle. The performance gives the impression of the presence of a real character on stage with his true story. Kantor appears on the stage as the hero of the performance, with attributes strongly associated with his private image, like a cigarette or characteristic clothing. Interestingly, he is also the hero of most of his paintings painted after 1987. These self-portraits are accompanied by a constantly lit cigarette, scarf, hat, and coat of the artist.
The figure of Kantor is doubled by a mannequin, who appears on the stage as the Groom with the Bride in the wedding scene. In the first version of the performance, the Coffin was the Bride. The WEDDING-DREAM scene takes place with the sounds of Salve Regina. One of the central doors opens, in a semi-circle wall of black canvas, set deep inside the stage. They show a mannequin of Tadeusz Kantor in a black suit and a white shirt with a bow tie, dressed as if for a wedding or a funeral, which is not without significance, because, as we shall see in a moment, it's about one thing and the other. A vertical black coffin is standing next to him. They ride on a mobile platform towards the centre of the stage. The wedding ceremony follows. The owner of the pub in which the play takes place swears loyalty until death to the Bride–coffin in the name of the Groom–mannequin. Then, at the sign of Kantor, he passes the Bride and Groom through the same door that closes behind them like a “grave”.
The motif of the wedding appeared in Kantor's theatrical work for the first time in Cricoteka in Gdzie są niegdysiejsze śniegi (1979) and then in the performance Wielopole, Wielopole (1980).
It should be emphasized that, in the first version of the spectacle, which was presented in Milan, Berlin, and New York, Tadeusz Kantor was constantly accompanied on the stage by a coffin from the wedding ceremony, which he repeatedly brought to the stage and took with him when he left, finally sitting with her at the table, touching her.
The prototype for the coffin during the Krakow rehearsals was a coffin made of stained plywood, with a veil protruding from the crack. In the wedding scene, next to the coffin, among other things, Kantor tried to create an emballage for the Bride: an object kept in the collection of cricotage, under the name White Emballage. Made out of a sponge, wrapped in white paper, and tied with a string, this presented the unavailability/absence of the character. In the show at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the actress, Marie Vayssiere, plays Elle (in French, ‘She’). ‘THE BRIDE from the dream of marriage’ is dead; she moves somnambulistically, like a mannequin; her face is frozen. She appears on stage and disappears, escorted by Kantor; the emotional bond between them does not end.
Kantor goes back to the theme of equating love and death, which has repeatedly appeared in poetry and painting. At the same time, this motif is enriched by the romantic idea of eternal failure. In the text, Ja realny, he writes: ‘I will die / and I will not admit / that I am old. / Death and love... / The time has come / when I could not distinguish, / which is which. / Both of them captivated me’.
The wedding scene in, I shall never return, refers to cricotage, Un matrimonio (A wedding in a constructivist and surrealistic manner), which the artist made in Milan in 1986, and, especially for cricotage, The machine of love and death (premiere: Kassel, 1987). In the last minutes of this performance, a platform in the shape of a circle is set in motion. On its opposite poles, there are: a mannequin of the Groom, an object extremely similar visually to the mannequin of the Groom-Kantor in I shall never return and a skeleton. Set in a regular, circular movement around the ‘circle of life and death’, they appear to us alternately in a ‘love dance’. As in the WEDDING-DREAM scene, Love (the Groom) and Death (the skeleton) get closer and closer until they reach unity. Coupling love and death in the form of a young couple in a dreamlike dance is also a motif of cricotage in A very short lesson (1986).
It should be noted that the mannequin and coffin with the platform are a few new objects, which were created during the work on this spectacle, in contrast to the rest, which are reconstructions of objects from previous performances of the Cricot 2 Theatre.

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



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


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
and constantly threatening
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)


“Young couple” (“I Shall Never Return”, 1988)


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