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ANTI-EXHIBITION, OR POPULAR EXHIBITION

[Wnętrze piwnicy Galerii Krzysztofory, wewnątrz nagromadzenie przedmiotów]

I have organised my exhibition of 937 exhibits; I have called it
the Popular Exhibition.
It was the outcome of a year’s work, preparations,
efforts, a whole process of transformations which at that time
were taking place in my ideas about the work of art,
its function and its fate.
It was the first environnement in Poland.
It had characteristics of a happening,
of ready-made reality.
[Tadeusz Kantor, 1963]1

Popular Exhibition (also referred to by the artist as the Anti-Exhibition), which Tadeusz Kantor organised in 1963 in the Galeria Krzysztofory in Krakow, was an attempt to redefine the object, its function and its creative potential. The objects exhibited at the Popular Exhibition – documents, notes, sketches, drawings, photographs, theatrical costumes, newspaper cuttings and so on, displayed on washing lines, in boxes and cases, in almost total chaos – were objects which belonged to the periphery of the artist’s work. The aim of the exhibition was to degrade the concept of the work of art as a discrete section of creativity, its structure and system enclosed. At the same time, the exhibition represented an attempt to alter the existing functions and sense of an art exhibition and its perception by the viewer. The absence of paintings, Kantor wrote in his manifesto, alters the viewer’s perception from analytical and contemplative into an almost fluid and active co-existence in this field of live reality.

From the  Anti-Exhibition manifesto

 The work – a material outcome of creation – I considered to be suspicious and too formal. I then decided to reveal its image, carefully erased from memory, removed from the eyes of the audience so as not to diminish the value of the work, almost a monument. I declared all that which combined into that time of darkness and disquiet to be art: all these details, perhaps not smoothed out and unrepresentative, often shameful, often à propos of nothing, unruly, but which constituted the original, primaeval creative matter, incomparable to anything. I simply exhibited all that which combined into the process of the preparation of the work of art. [Tadeusz Kantor on the Popular Exhibition, July 1980]

 


1. Tadeusz Kantor, Anty-Wystawa, czyli Wystawa Popularna; in: Tadeusz Kantor. Metamorfozy. Teksty o latach 1938-1974, ed. K. Pleśniarowicz, Księgarnia Akademicka Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Kraków 2000, p. 247.
2. Krzysztof Miklaszewski, Spotkania z Tadeuszem Kantorem, TKECh, Kraków 1992, p. 72.

ed. Justyna Michalik

Popular Exhibition, Galeria Krzysztofory, Kraków, 1963, photo by Tadeusz Chrzanowski

 

Popular Exhibition, Galeria Krzysztofory, Kraków, 1963, photo by Tadeusz Chrzanowski

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