The opening of the new Cricoteka

The opening programme of Cricotekas new headquarters is now available! 


Cricoteka, fot. Agnieszka Oprządek


To create Cricoteka requires the realisation that it will be an unprecedented place, one which combines in its form and function: 
a visual sphere (the exhibition, the collection, reconstruction of stage sets)
the academic and archival (the archive, the reading room)
the didactic (lectures, study texts, experimental atelier)
whilst leaving room for living artistic events.
It is only through such diversified forms that the organisation of CRICOTEKA and making it accessible will make it possible to illustrate, preserve and popularise the diverse artistic legacy of  Tadeusz Kantor.

Tadeusz Kantor, Florence 1980



Remarkable architecture on the banks of the Vistula

On 12 September 2014, in Krakow’s Podgórze district, Cricoteka’s new headquarters will open its doors to the public. In keeping with its ambitious architectural design, the new space will transform the functioning of the institution, enabling it to receive and host large-scale cultural events that, up until now, Cricoteka has been carrying out in a number of other, dispersed venues. Tadeusz Kantor’s own aim will at last be fulfilled: the creation of a venue fit for a live artistic event.

At the present juncture in the three decades of its history, Cricoteka has arrived at a unique opportunity for multidirectional development and putting the new institution on the cultural map, both Polish and international. Without any doubt, Cricoteka’s raison d’être stems from the huge legacy left to it by Tadeusz Kantor; in spite of the many plans to incorporate it into another, larger institution. Since 2006 – when the construction of the new venue began, Cricoteka’s independence, envisaged by its creator himself, has been quite apparent.

The form of the building pays architectural homage to the internationally acclaimed artist. At the same time, the contemporary structure represents a creative adaptation of the former Podgórze Power Station. The architectural accent will revitalise the post-industrial cityscape of the Old Podgórze; together with the adjacent district of Zabłocie as well as Kazimierz on the opposite bank of the Vistula. This will be a factor in the development of this part of Krakow and open it to the river. The innovative Cricoteka programme will take as its starting point the fusion of contemporary architecture with the old buildings of the power station.

The project draws on examples of what has been acknowledged as best practice in the revitalisation of post-industrial buildings and their adaptation as cultural centres, museums and art galleries, such as Tate Modern in London or the CaixaForum in Madrid.

Whilst receiving world acclaim, Kantor’s art remains closely connected to Krakow and the Małopolska and former Galician regions. Kantor’s oeuvre carries universal values, yet it is firmly rooted in Poland’s history and cultural heritage. The significance of Tadeusz Kantor’s legacy places him amongst the most prominent Polish artists.


A unique collection

The institution that Tadeusz Kantor founded in 1980, which has performed the parallel functions of museum, archive, gallery and research centre, boasts a unique collection related to the artist. This enables Cricoteka to organise exhibitions, symposiums, theatrical productions, workshops and encounters with artists and to produce publications dedicated to Kantor both in Poland and abroad. In every element of the programme that we have assembled, we try to draw on the history and tradition of the three decades of Cricoteka. Our diverse activity demonstrates what a great influence the artist himself has been and the interest that his achievements hold.

The inspiration of Tadeusz Kantor’s artistic stance has provided the backbone of Cricoteka’s programme for the next three years. We have looked for role models amongst the experiences of similar institutions dedicated to a single artist, but also amongst ventures that have presented Kantor’s achievement in various forms and contexts. The consecutive exhibitions The Impossible Theatre[1] and Theatre without Theatre,[2] organised respectively in 2005 and 2007, remain our points of reference. They placed the artist amongst the most significant reformers of art and theatre in the 20th century, as well as juxtaposing his work with the activities of contemporary artists.  The 2011 conference dedicated to marionettes at the Institut International de la Marionette in Charleville-Mézières offered a different perspective on the legacy of Tadeusz Kantor. It highlighted the artist’s role in continuing Gordon Edward Craig’s explorations and their influence on the contemporary theatre, expanding the scope for the potential of Cricoteka’s multi-disciplinary programme.


Tadeusz Kantor and contemporary artists

Following a number of years’ of background work, two main strands of activity have been prepared for the new Cricoteka venue: one, related to the presentation of the work of Tadeusz Kantor and the second, demonstrating its influence on contemporary art and theatre. Projects that gave a foretaste of Cricoteka’s new way forward had already been presented in 2012 and 2013. The performative activities put on as part of the projects Radical Languages, The Migratory Museum, The Book Lovers and Who Inspires Us? Tadeusz Kantor! entered into an idiosyncratic dialogue with Kantor’s oeuvre, setting out to search for elements that the work of contemporary artists share with that of the founder of Cricoteka. The concept of projects structured as a series of activities at the interface of diverse art form took as its premise an innovative approach to the re-interpretation of Kantor’s legacy. Thanks to international projects, during recent years, Cricoteka has begun to collaborate with over 100 artists from countries including Britain, France, Denmark, Spain, Holland and the USA. The resultant off-beat events, forerunners of the opening of the new Cricoteka, have altered the perception of the institution by the new, young audiences, now accustomed to the unconventional offerings of the institution. In the new Cricoteka, there will be two exhibition spaces, situated in the spectacularly designed bridge suspended over the former Podgórze Power Station. The Tadeusz Kantor permanent exhibition, presented in one of the two exhibition halls, has taken as its starting point the Cricoteka collection, which was created by the artist himself. In its new, contemporary edition, the exhibition will be occupying a space that doubles up as a theatre, offering a range of multimedia materials that complement the original collection. Three more editions of the exhibition are being planned. For the opening, the second exhibition space will present the temporary exhibition Nothing Twice, the first such large-format project in Poland to combine exhibition and performance. Soon thereafter, in December, in the same space it will be possible to see the latest edition of the project The Book Lovers; dealing with novels written by visual artists; the project attempts to initiate systematic research into the phenomenon.

Simultaneously with the opening of the new Cricoteka venue in Nadwiślańska Street, the Tadeusz Kantor Gallery Studio at 7/5 Sienna Street will embark on a new series of exhibitions presenting a unique collection of Tadeusz Kantor’s drawings. These drawings, from the Collection A, have never been exhibited in that venue in their entirety. The exhibition intends to provide the fullest possible presentation, in a series of instalments, Collection A, and Collection A Annex, both on deposit at the National Museum in Krakow. The exhibition of the drawings will supplement the subsequent editions of the permanent exhibition of Tadeusz Kantor’s oeuvre in the new venue.


State-of-the-art methods of working with the audience

The wealth of programme and educational options at the disposal of the public has been targeted at diverse audiences and forms a unique part of Krakow’s cultural offering for residents and tourists alike. Cricoteka intends to create a user-friendly place for all audiences including the disabled, with an ambiance appealing to all age groups and particularly attractive to residents of Podgórze and teachers. The activities on offer will bring Kantor’s life and work closer and enable an insight into them. The artist’s world-renowned lifetime achievement has been attracting researchers from all over the world. The new headquarters will provide an opportunity for it to become a contemporary hub for academic research.

The arrival of a brand-new cultural institution endowed with open urban space will also make it possible to organise state-of-the-art outdoor events. In accordance with the wishes of Tadeusz Kantor, it will continue to be possible to visit his studio in Sienna Street, where he spent his final years. The small gallery alongside the studio will also continue to be open to the public, continuing its display of exhibitions, film projections and educational programmes. One of the two main strands of the new Cricoteka’s activities – the presentation of Tadeusz Kantor’s works – will be greatly aided by a continuation of last year’s theatre workshops, unique encounters with the actors of the Cricot 2 Theatre, culminating in a public display of the works made during the sessions.

Exhibitions and other events will be aided by multimedia with opportunities for interactive participation by visitors. A rich educational programme will rely on tried and tested methods of organising lectures and museum lessons, while also being based on the most up-to-date methods of working with viewers, who will be able to try their own hand at creative activities.

The new Cricoteka, combining the functions of a museum (with its Kantor Museum), a gallery (with its permanent and temporary exhibitions), a theatre (hosting visiting productions and putting on own productions) and a cinema (presenting documentaries and registered shows) is bound to attract numerous visitors as well as regular users.

[1]    The exhibition  The Impossible Theatre was organised by the Barbican Centre in London during 2005–2006 and curated by  Hanna Wróblewska and Sabine Folie.
[2]   The exhibition A Theatre without Theatre was presented in 2007 and 2008 roku at the MACBA in Barcelona and the Berardo Collection Museum in Lisbon and curated by Bernard Blistene and Yann Chateigné Tytelmann.

The project for the Construction of the Tadeusz Kantor Museum and CRICOTEKA the Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor has been co-financed by the European Union as part of the Małopolska Regional Operational Programme for 2007– 2013 together with funds from the Małopolska Voivodship.

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