The Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor Cricoteka, in collaboration with the Nuremberg House and the Cracow Festival Office, the operator of the ICE Kraków Congress Centre, are pleased to invite everyone to the unique presentation of the modern version of Oskar Schlemmer?s masterpiece, Triadic Ballet, which will be performed twice at the ICE Kraków Congress Centre on 20 October (8 pm) and 21 October (7 pm).
As part of the celebrations of the Centenary of Polish Avant-garde, Polish audience will have a unique chance to witness one of the most important theatre performances in the history of the arts. This visual event will be a treat to the lovers of Bauhaus, dance, theatre, and performative arts.
Reconstructed by Gerhard Bohner, who completely restructured its choreography, Triadic Ballet was developed in 2014 in Munich by Bayerisches Staatsballett in collaboration with Akademie der Künste in Berlin. Bohner?s phenomenal reconstruction of the ballet?s choreography, along with the outstanding redesigning of ballet costumes for the piece (preceded by months of interdisciplinary studies by a team of researchers Akademie der Künste) translated into one of the most brilliant ballet undertakings in the past few decades. This extraordinary modern piece, liberated from traditionally construed action and narrative, has been presented worldwide, invariably drawing tremendous audiences.
Contrary to his Bauhaus colleagues, such as Wassily Kandinsky, Andor Weininger or Xanti Schawinkski, Oskar Schlemmer desired neither abstract stage design nor pure, non-human mechanization. What he sought for was a synthesis of naturalness and artificiality, a restorative schematism in the service of higher goals. It was as early as 1922 that Schlemmer wrote his programme, in which he praised the beneficial effects of technology as a feature evident in his famous ballet, and a factor enabling humans to feel consciously and expressly through the mediation of the ?human-machine? and ?body as a mechanism.?
Reconstructions of great masterworks customarily raise questions about faithfulness to the original and contemporary relevance of old works redeveloped for the stage. Any doubt in this respect can be dispelled if one thinks of what American artist Laurie Anderson, who rose to fame in the 1970s thanks to her multimedia performances, wrote following her visit to Schlemmer?s Bauhaus Dances at New York?s Guggenheim Museum:
[?] Schlemmer?s dances were truly lively and beautiful, as if they had just been created? It was shocking to feel this kind of continuity and learn that artists have ideas that are then utilised by other artists, that there is no progress to reality, which is rather a forward- and backward-reaching continuity, extended in time [?].
Oskar Schlemmer was a German painter, sculptor, dancer, choreographer, director, pedagogue and poet, one of the leading artists of the 20th century European avant-garde. Interdisciplinary premises, characteristic to all artists of the Bauhaus group, which Schlemmer belonged to in 1921-1929, can be found in a number of his works. Transitions between individual media are fluid and blend in his total work, at which he arrived in Triadic Ballet. Schlemmer was opposed to expressionist and classical ballet, introducing new ideas, whose counterparts can only be found in certain productions of Diaghilev?s Russian Ballets, whose costumes and stage design were often contributed by such artists as Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov or Pablo Picasso. The only other ballet choreographer to develop his pieces as unified entities was Fernand Leger (La Creation du Monde, 1923, Le Ballet Mécanique, 1924).
Public presentations of Triadic Ballet, such as the 1922 performance at the Württemberg Theatre in Stuttgart, were a rarity. Out of the original 18 costumes, only half survived and no film recording of any of the shows was preserved. One can only imagine them thanks to the photographs of individual scenes, press reviews, and Schlemmer?s own precise notes. Although the first reconstruction based on Bauhaus dances was created in 1968, Schlemmer had already been considered as an important representative of modernism in visual arts and painting, and a revolutionary and innovative stage designer. In 1970, Margaret Hastings, a former student of Mary Wigman, reconstructed Triadic Ballet for the first time, followed by the reconstruction by Gerhard Bohner (1977, Berlin) and Debra McCall (1982, New York).
In 1923, Schlemmer translated the spatial design of the costumes, and his own experience as dancer, into paintings, as manifested in such paintings as Dancer (1922), on display at Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, Leisure Room (1925) or Dancer (1923), displayed at the National Gallery in Stuttgart, with their vertical and horizontal compositions, moving motifs in the form of foreground figures, accompanied by a representation of figures parallel to the painting and a perspective-based floor structure, all foreshadow Schlemmer?s choreographic ideas.
Subsequent presentations of Triadic Ballet took place as part of the Bauhaus week at the National Theatre in Weimar, followed by performances in Dresden (1923). Three years later, the piece was presented at the Donaueschingen music days, accompanied by Hindemith?s organ music. In 1938, 9 figures were sent to New York for a performance that never came to be, as the piece was to dignify the great Bauhaus exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. It so happened that the move helped to save the figures: they were sent back to Germany in 1960, and remain the only original exhibits in existence.
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The Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor Cricoteka was founded by Tadeusz Kantor as early as in 1980, initially as a ?live archive? of the legendary Cricot 2 Theatre. In 2014, the Centre reopened at its new seat as the largest Polish research and presentation institution dedicated to Kantor. Cricoteka continues to rewrite the history of the Cricot 2 Theatre and Kantor?s oeuvre. The fundamental issue behind Cricoteca is the notion of the artist?s oeuvre and the manner of its presentation in the museum context. Kantor was a radical and uncompromising artist. He developed his pieces based on conflicts and tensions, as well as ceaseless provocation. He intended for his art to be ?useless? and ?autonomous?. Considered as an ?avant-garde heretic?, he left a comprehensive legacy of manifestos, theoretical texts, drawings and projects, as well as props and costumes from the Cricot 2 performances.
The oeuvre of Tadeusz Kantor abounds in references to that of Oskar Schlemmer?s. Kantor remained under its influence particularly during the 1930s and 1940s, when shaping his own artistic beliefs. At the time he was interested in issues that were close to Schlemmer, associated with the body, movement, space, transformations of human figures, the image of ?man as the impersonator of spiritual and bodily events, from naiveté to reflectivity, to naturalness, to falseness.? These ideas proved to be unusually provocative for Kantor also later on. Through dialogue and recurrent negation, he would return to them throughout all the stages of his creativity. This affinity was the lead theme of the Schlemmer?Kantor exhibition presented at the Cricoteka centre from 14 October 2016 through 15 January 2017.