Tadeusz Kantor. Spectres. Permanent exhibition.


The world found itself closer to death than life, and, by some analogy, closer to poetry […] Anything could happen. The borders of time got blurred.[1]

The new exhibition presents objects, props and costumes from Cricot 2 Theatre productions, which mostly had not been yet shown on the permanent exhibition. This time curators radically reject the chronological narrative employed in the previous displays. They blur the boundaries of time and create a space open to new interpretations. In the post-catastrophic landscape, accumulated stage objects lose their independent status and develop new meanings.

The exhibition’s leading theme is the memory of the difficult past in both the personal and historical dimensions, as an idea clearly present in the artist’s work. While World War I was only a vague memory for Kantor, one shaped above all by the collective memory, his experience of World War II was fully conscious. It was the time of danger and destruction but simultaneously the time of creation that was forever marked by rebellion against the mechanisms that govern history.

The 1940s . . . 50s . . . 60s . . . 70s . . . have passed. / Artistic ideas have been breaking the surface, / but all the time, as if from far beyond — maybe it was my inner voice — / I have been receiving warning signals that ordered me and dictated / that I chose one action over the other — / PROTEST / REVOLT / AGAINST THE OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED SACRED SITES, / AGAINST EVERYTHING THAT HAD A STAMP OF ‘APPROVAL’/ FOR REALNESS / FOR ‘POVERTY’. . .  […] With the passing of time, other perilous symptoms of our epoch / emerged and grew in strength. Those were / NARROW-MINDED BUREAUCRACY, OMNIPRESENT TECHNOLOGY, CANNIBALISTIC CONSUMPTION/ COMMON AND MANDATORY MATERIALISM OF LIFE / THAT DEVOURS THE HUMAN MIND AND SPIRIT.[2]

“I Shall Never Return”, 1988_Photo: Jacquie-Bablet

The curators of the exhibition explore questions about the influence of history on the artist’s work, and on art itself. They ask how art which represents traumatic past or sense of impending danger may implicate the shape of its presentation in museums today.


Curators: Małgorzata Paluch-Cybulska, Michał Kobiałka

Design: Zbigniew Prokop, Krzysztof Kućma – Creator s.c.

Place: Cricoteka, ul. Nadwiślańska 2–4, 30-527 Kraków

Opening hours: Thursday  Sunday, 11 am – 7 pm.

Free entrance


[1] Tadeusz Kantor, ‘Ulisses 1944’, English translation from: Daniel F. Simpson (ed.), Annexing the Impossible. The writings of Tadeusz Kantor (xxxxx, 1987), p. 26.

[2] Tadeusz Kantor, ‘The Milano Lessons: Lesson 12’ in: Journey, English translation from: A Journey Through Other Spaces. Essays and Manifestos, 1944-1990. Tadeusz Kantor, ed. & trans. Michał Kobialka (University of California Press, Los Angeles 1993), pp. 260-261.

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