Thursday, July 07, 2005

Against the (universal) avant-garde

Tadeusz Kantor, Panoramic Sea Happening (1967)
From the time of Verdun, Voltaire's Cabaret and Marcel Duchamp's Water-Closet, when the 'status of art' was drowned out by the roar of Fat Bertha - DECISION became the only remaining human possibility, the reliance on something that was or is unthinkable, functioning as the first stimulant of creativity, conditioning and defining art. Lately thousands of mediocre individuals ahve been making decisions, without scruples or any hesitation whatever. We are witnesses of the banalization and conventionalization of decision. This once dangerous path has become a comfortable freeway with improved safety measures and information. Guides, maps, orientation tables, directional signs, signals, centres, Art Co-operatives guarantee the excellence of the functioning of creativity. We are witnesses of the GENERAL MOVEMENT of artist-commandos, street fighters, artist-mediators, artist-mailmen, epistologs, pedlars, street magicians, proprietors of Offices and Agencies. Movements on this already official freeway, which threatens with a flood of graphomania and deeds of minimal significance, increases with each passing day. It is necessary to leave it as quickly as possible. This is not easily done. Particularly at the apogee of the UNIVERSAL AVANT-GARDE - blind and favoured with the highest prestige of the INTELLECT, which protects both the wise and the stupid.
- Tadeusz Kantor (1915-90), a great, wonderful Polish artist, creator of the Theater of Death (the theater (or rather: performance) group he founded in 1955 was called Cricot2). Beyond being an excellent theater director and visual artist, Kantor was an eternal provocateur. His biographies are full of outrageous statements and controversial incidents.
One I recall happened when his group went to Japan for some festival. They were invited to a teahouse (or was it some other elegant place?). Kantor declared they had to show these "Japanese barbarians" that culture is not about washing the floor and having a "most pleasant light" in the room. He then walked around in mud, and upon entering refused to take his shoes off.
Kantor during the performance of his most famous play, Umarła Klasa (The Dead Class) (1975). You can see the director on the left, behind the bench, as he had the habit of "directing" (observing, but also slightly changing) the shows even during the performance.

(some more on Polish avant-garde here)

1 comment:

Vigilâmbulo Caolho said...

Dear VVoitek, how are you?
take a tour at our theatre group's weblog where you can also find a text of Tadeusz Kantor, "À travers la fenêtre" where he underlines the role of memory in art and its questioning of "la compétence du visuel".

Pedro Manuel


Related Posts with Thumbnails