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Toy “Lajkonik’s march” by Jan Oprocha (father)

A toy cart, or actually a platform on wheels with holes to thread a pulling cord through and 31 figurines arranged on it, rocking while the toy is pulled. The whole toy, including the platform and the figurines, is made of polychrome wood. The rectangular platform with its bevelled corners and wheels are painted green. The edges are coated with white, yellow and pink paint, and the spokes are marked with yellow, blue and red.

Fan with a court scene

The fan is made of a hand-painted fabric. In the fan’s folds, richly decorated fields with various floral patterns featuring a palette of blues and pinks, coloured using paint gouache, arranged vertically, are clearly visible. Through the floral compositions, there diamond-shaped ornaments, sewn in using golden thread, with the addition of sequins and beads at the corners. Along the fan, runs a strip of alternating brown and azure-blue panels, with white and pink flowers running respectively, in various compositions.

Two armchairs, the “Ład” Artists Cooperative

In 1918, the Szymanowski family lost the family manor in Tymoszówka, Russia. Karol Szymanowski lived in hotels, boarding houses, and with his family ever since. At the furnished Atma Villa rented in Zakopane, the composer lived between 1930 and 1935. Two armchairs made by the Ład Artists Cooperative are the only pieces of furniture to have ever been bought by Szymanowski to furnish the Atma Villa.

Małgorzata Markiewicz, “Counting-Out Games”

Her work, Wyliczanki (Counting-out Games), consists of three objects – costumes. Each consists of a skirt and a braid. Wide, embroidered skirts, with a circular pattern, inspired by Polish folklore, refer to the character and colours of festive folk costumes. They are made of combined, contrasting materials, with sewn-on patterns of contemporary silhouettes, which the artist juxtaposed with embroidered texts known from children’s plays or songs, such as: Moja Ulijanko, klęknij na kolanko [Little Ula, take a knee], Mam chusteczkę haftowaną [I’ve got an embroidered hankie], Chodzi lisek koło drogi [There’s a little fox strolling along the road side]. The colourful braids, made of old clothes, are long and thick, and therefore also heavy and uncomfortable to wear. The artist called them “cultural braids”, thus suggesting that they function as something artificial, attached.

Nativity Scene by Franciszek Zięba

This puppet nativity scene made by the carpenter Franciszek Zięba in 1935 is the first exhibit donated to the Museum – the Vistula Ethnographic Park in Wygiełzów and the Lipowiec Castle. The base of the nativity scene is adapted to the needs of puppet theatre.

Tomasz Bajer, “Minimalism of Guantanamo”

The work is an accurate replica of Yasser Talal al Zahrani’s prison cell at the American detention camp for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Saudi prisoner died in 2006. The official cause of death was given as suicide. However, an examination by an independent pathologist showed traces of repeated beating, which could be indicative of torture. The work can be interpreted as a commentary on the abuse of human rights by imperialist powers, and the individual’s helplessness in the face of such behavior.

An embroidered jerkin – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A jerkin embroidered with silver (?) and golden (?) threads, with a large cut-out at the front, adorned with baubles decorated with red coral (eight baubles on each side), geometric ornamentation prevails.

“Wardrobe — Interior of Imagination” (“Country House”, 1961), reconstructed in 1981

Tadeusz Kantor’s sculpture expressing the idea from the Cricot 2 play of W małym dworku (Country House), based on S.I. Witkiewicz’s play under the same title. The premiere took place in Kraków in the Krzysztofory Gallery on 14 January 1961. This was the Informel Theatre stage of the artist’s works.

The Marconi radio set — 4-LS/I model (serial number 7163)

The Marconi radio set is a high quality luxury battery-operated radio set produced by Polskie Zakłady Marconi S.A. This Warsaw branch of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd. London, the company established by the undisputed inventor of radiophony, Guglielmo Marconi, was established in 1928.

Strupek Group, “Rocket”

The starting point for the performance Rocket, was the text of a futuristic poem by Anatol Stern, Europe, published in 1929. It was processed by the members of the Strupek Group, using a modern internet tool — Google translate — to obtain an absurd, mechanized form of language. However, what survived is the essence of the original poem and its embedded story of the brutality of the 20th century history, the traps of totalitarianism, and the triumph of violence, whose horror was highlighted by ghostly sounds extracted from a theremin (an electroacoustic musical instrument constructed in the 1920s by a Soviet physicist Lev Termen). The oppressiveness of the situation increased the audience’s involvement in the space of the show itself and confronted them with characters shouting out consecutive lines: Priest, Altar Boy, Mother, Rocket, and the Sacrificial Lamb, conducting the action. The play, which was recreated three times, was an adequate conclusion of the public activity of the Strupek Group — from then on, the fates of its members were to go down their individual paths.

“Tank” (“Today Is My Birthday”, 1990)

Presented object was made for the play Today is my birthday Cricot 2 Theater, over which the artist worked from October 1989 to early December 1990. Tadeusz Kantor died after one of the last rehearsals, 8 of December 1990 year. The premiere took place shortly afterwards, in January 1991 at the Théâtre Garonne in Toulouse, then the play was shown in 22 cities around the world until June 1992.

“Self-portrait” (“Today Is My Birthday”, 1990)

The presented object was created for a performance of Cricot 2 Theatre, Today is my birthday, on which the artist worked from October 1989 to early December 1990. Tadeusz Kantor died after one of the last rehearsals, on 8 December 1990. The premiere took place shortly after in January 1991 at Théâtre Garonne in Toulouse; then the show was shown in 22 cities around the world until June 1992.

“Rat trap” (“I Shall Never Return”, 1988)

The presented exhibit comes from the Qui non ci torno più [I Shall Never Return​] play at the Cricot 2 Theatre created in Kraków and Milan in the years 1987–1988. The play’s premiere took place on 23 June 1988 at the Piccolo Teatro Studio in Milan. The plot of the play takes place in a tavern. There are metal tavern tables and stools on the stage. In the background a wall of smooth black cloth is set up in a semi-circle with the barely visible contours of four doors.

Fragment of a decorative fabric – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A fragment of decorative fabric was used as a prop in the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków – at the school of historical painting of Jan Matejko.

“Infanta’s Portrait” (“Today is My Birthday”, 1990)

Infanta’s Portrait was one of the elements of the “Poor Room of Imagination”, arranged on the stage by Tadeusz Kantor (see The artist’s table). It was on the right side of the stage, next to the artist’s table. The Infanta’s presence in the painting is based on rhythmic departures and returns. As Kantor wrote, “standing or sitting in the frame, she poses herself in the painting and presents/ all her charms, or moves outside of the frame for various reasons: she is thrown, falls out or leaves herself. This ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ somehow sets the rhythm of her functioning in the performance.”

Tube gramophone

The mechanism of the gramophone is placed in a box made of oak wood in a natural colour. The casing is modestly decorated with simple mills, the front wall bears a metal brass secession plate depicting the muse, Erato.

Jarosław Kozłowski, “Counting-Out Rhyme”

Fifteen bowls of dried-up paint each have a matching cloth on which someone has wiped their dirty hands. Each such soiling/cleaning set is ascribed to a site of genocide. Washing hands is a symbolic act of removing oneself from these events and thereby from any responsibility. However, the material testimony remains.

Costume “Easter Monday Dziad” by Piotr Opach

Easter Monday Dziad (dziad śmiguśny, dziad śmigustny or słomiak), a costume for a boy or a young man walking on Easter Monday from home to home as part of the śmigus dyngus tradition in Małopolska, in villages around Limanowa. The wooden frame, a dummy imitating a standing person.

Russian headdress piece – a prop from the School of Fine Arts

A headdress piece stiffened with wires, made of strips forming a diagonal chequered pattern. It is embroidered with imitation pearls and laced with metal threads, forming a convex plant ornament. The crown is placed at the back. The whole piece was covered with fabric, and straps were sewn into it at the head for fastening. The object was used as a prop in the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków.

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

The “trumpet” was an object — a prop of the Rabbi character (played by Zbigniew Gostomski) and his Pupil (Dominika Michalczuk). The natural-sized tin trumpet was covered with a black material, a kind of casing whose end on the cup side dropped loosely falling into the metal bucket. The trumpet was hung on a metal frame structure (nearly 3.5 metres high) where a system of blocks and transmissions was installed with steel links enabling it to be raised and dropped by a crank handle.