Kantor museum on hold

The windows are curtained with cobwebs, and if you were to brush them aside you would see that the panes of glass themselves are scratched and scarred into translucence.Signs by the door redirect those looking for the medical supply shop that recently inhabited the space to a new location a kilometer up the road.
Built as a power plant, the building on ul. Nadwislanska in Podgorze is now under the control of the Center for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor Cricoteka. It is a long name for an organization which wears many hats and is trying to turn the building into its headquarters.
Currently spread out in several locations in Krakow, Cricoteka wants to consolidate all those hats under one roof. Plans are for the building to include a performance space, a gallery for works of both Kantor and contemporary artists, lecture and workshop facilities, and an archive.
Cricoteka has long been one of Poland?s most important cultural representatives internationally. After debuting with the play ?The Water Hen? in 1969 at the Premio Roma festival in Rome, Modena and Bologna, Tadeusz Kantor?s experimental theater received international acclaim until his death in 1990. Although peaking in the late 1970s and early 1980s with his masterpieces ?The Dead Class? and ?Wielopole, Wielopole,? the artist?s work continued to win praise in places such as London and Edinburgh.
Since Kantor?s death, the organization has continued to be international in scope, reaching farther afield to Japan, Korea and India. There is a real need for new facilities, according to Cricoteka?s Tomasz Tomaszewski. ?Now all the archival material is stored under the same conditions,? he said. ?Material on paper, material on VHS tapes is all kept at the same temperature with the same humidity.?
Kantor?s papers include drawings that are important works of art in their own right. The tapes include VHS recordings of his performances. What is worrisome is that videotape reacts differently to environmental conditions than paper. ?VHS tapes start to degrade after 20 years,? Tomaszewski explained.
Plans for the new center include separating the archive by category and digitizing the VHS tapes. Cricoteka is ready to go ahead with the project. It has staged several exhibitions, the first of which was to display the architectural plans for the center. 
Loosely based on a Kantor drawing which shows a man carrying a table on his back, the center would consist of a renovated power plant ?carrying? a modern steel and glass structure. Situated on the banks of the Vistula River, the building would contain offices, archives and a performance space located in a room that once housed massive turbine generators. Now the structure sits dusty, and a three-meter photo of Kantor in Milan lays sprawled on the floor as if exiled from the wall where it belongs. The newer structure in the combination old-and-new complex would contain temporary and permanent exhibition halls.
Funding for the 8.2-mln-euro project will come from the Indykatywny Plan Inwestycyjny that the Malopolska Voivodeship set up to pay for the 12 most important projects in the region.
Ultimately, about 80 percent will come from the EU, however. The balance will be from the national budget.
The plans exist, the money exists. It would seem that everything is on track. So, six months after the winning project was announced, why hasn?t construction started?
The answer is bureaucracy. The land to be used belongs to two governments. The power plant is the property of the Malopolska Region. The low barracks next door, which will be torn down, belongs to the Krakow Municipality. Cricoteka has been waiting for more than a year for the two parties to reach an agreement. The voivodeship wants to buy the land the city owns, whereas the city wants to trade the parcel for another.
?Several times they have been close to a solution,? said Cricoteka director Natalia Zarzecka. ?But they are never able to close the deal.? Although in theory the negotiations continue, it has been months since Cricoteka has heard of any progress.
Zarzecka praised the architects? commitment. ?They have been very patient thus far,? she said, ?but everyone?s patience has a limit. They want to see their plans realized.?Meanwhile, it seems the most active builders at the structure are the spiders, which continue weaving their cobweb curtains around the power plant. As Tadeusz Kantor never used curtains, this is sadly inappropriate.

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