For the 2015 Venice Art Biennale the series of film screenings relating to Kantor’s contributions to The Edinburgh International Festival has been presented by The Demarco European Art Foundation. These screenings took place at the The Accademia Teatrale Veneta on the Giudecca on May 8th.
The first was the magical film made by Ken McMullen of the Cricot 2 Theatre production of Witkiewicz’s ‘Lovelies and Dowdies’ presented in The Poorhouse in 1973; another was the film on the life of Kantor produced by Gabriella Cardazzo and directed by Duncan Ward. This film documents the following of Kantor on his world tour with a number of Cricot 2 Theatre productions. The third film was a short edited version of ‘The Water Hen’ – Kantor’s masterpiece for the 1972 Edinburgh Festival.
After the screenings we had a chance to speak to Richard Demarco about Tadeusz Kantor, his art and contribution to international art. This was very important for us also because Richard Demarco in the spirit of creative friendship helped to established Kantor’s international reputation. They collaborate in three Edinburgh Festivals: 1972, 1973 and 1976.
Richard Demarco was a co-founder of the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh in 1963. Three years later he and other organisers of the theatre’s gallery space left the Traverse to establish what became the Richard Demarco Gallery. The gallery, which doubled as a performance venue during the Edinburgh Fringe, ran from 1966 to 1992.
For many years, the Demarco Gallery promoted cultural links with Eastern Europe, both in terms of presenting artists such as Paul Neagu from 1969, Marina Abramović from 1973 and Neue Slowenische Kunst from 1986 within Scotland, organising exhibitions of contemporary Polish, Romanian and Yugoslav art and in establishing outgoing connections for Scottish artists across Europe. He was also a big friend with Tadeusz Kantor.
Also particularly notable were the presentations by Tadeusz Kantor’s Cricot 2 group during the 1970s and 1980s. An unofficial performance of “The Water Hen” at the former Edinburgh poorhouse during the Edinburgh Festival in 1972 was a notable success. Cricot 2 returned to Edinburgh in later years. Demarco introduced Joseph Beuys and Kantor to one another and in one performance of “Lovelies and Dowdies” Beuys performed under Kantor’s direction.
Richard Demarco has attended every Edinburgh Festival. He has attended or been extensively involved with the Edinburgh Festival (and Festival Fringe), the largest arts festival in the world, since its inception.
Demarco presented several other highly regarded exhibitions of Polish art in Scotland. Among them were: ‘Awangarda Polska’ in 1979 including artworks of famous Henryk Stażewski, Stanisław Witkiewicz; ‘The Polish Exhibition’ in 1986 featuring such great names as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Kantor, Edward Dwurnik, Władysław Hasior, Z. Jurkiewicz, Józef Robakowski, J. Przybyla; ‘Art at the Edge: Contemporary Art from Poland’ with artworks of Magdalena Abakanowicz, Edward Dwurnik, I. Gostowska, Jerzy Beres, Jerzy Nowosielski, Leon Tarasewicz and many others. It is worthwhile to mention that Demarco also supported the art of Z. Makarewicz, B. Koslowska and one of the leading Polish film directors at the time, Andrzej Wajda.