Untitled (in the context of Tadeusz Kantor’s “Panoramic Sea Happening”)
My first encounter with performance or happening art was when I was invited by Kantor to take part in his piece, Line of Division, which took place at the Association of Art Historians space [in Kraków]. I was the person loudly proclaiming, “I sit.”
Then, in Osieki in 1967, Kantor asked my husband and myself to do anything in the context of his Sea Happening. It was at a time when, having moved away from academic sculpture, I was redefining my art. I was doing papier-mâché Corsets.
I viewed performances and happenings as something rather strange to my complex nature, which actually gave me a certain sense of guilt. Few anchor points as there were, I decided to participate in the happening anyway. My room in Osieki was almost empty, with a summer coat in the closet and two suitcases under the bed. There wasn’t much choice, and time was pressing. I hit upon the idea of confronting a beach situation (a hot summer day) with the situation of traveling. Dressed in the light coat, with a scarf on my head, and carrying the suitcases, I entered the sweltering beach, attracting much attention. I paced to and fro along the shore throughout the happening. People asked me if I was going to Sweden, if I was choosing freedom, and where my boat was waiting. It was a time, you know, when many young people, hippies, dreamed of fleeing the country. People tried to escape through the sea, and even in Osieki there had been a case where young runaways were apprehended. After the happening, Kantor was angered by reports about my performance’s purported meaning and reception. I didn’t challenge this kind of interpretation, which was distant from my – rather structural – intention. However, the spirit of the time imbues art. I think it was this context that caused Kantor to never publicly acknowledge my contribution. So he was rather cautious in matters that might jeopardize his career.