Content anchor

Małgorzata Szczęśniak’s Here and Gone Spaces

When: 
12jul'13
31aug'13
A view from the Pojawia się i znika exhibition of Małgorzata Szczęśniak's works, photo: Konrad Pustoła / Nowy Teatr
A view from the Pojawia się i znika exhibition of Małgorzata Szczęśniak's works, photo: Konrad Pustoła / Nowy Teatr

Pojawia się i znika / Appearing and Vanishing is a collage of fragments of works by the renowned Polish stage designer, who produced sets for nearly all of Krzysztof Warlikowski’s productions, and is a collaborator in his Nowy Teatr in Warsaw. Szczęśniak’s numerous drawings, sketches and fragments of stage and and costume design are interpreted anew by architect Aleksandra Wasilkowska.

Małgorzata Szczęśniak is best known as the author of spaces and costumes in Warlikowski’s performaces. The artists have been working with each other since their student years. They have created over 40 productions on some of the world’s leading stages. Their (A)pollonia brought Szczęśniak the Best Stage Design of the 2009/2010 season Award, presented by the French Association of Theatre, Music and Dance Critics.

The playwright-dramaturge Piotr Gruszczyński says of the artist’s work:

The oeuvre of Małgorzata Szczęśniak constitutes a central point of reference in European scenography. There are very few giants like this. The work is complex, multi-layered, with a long inner history as well, and with two thresholds that part within – the theatrical and operatic. And yet, it is very consistent, uniform, almost the fruit of an evolution

The works by Szczęśniak are brought to life by Aleksandra Wasilkowska, who often creates stage design herself, as she discerns her theatrical ideas from the domain of architecture.

The Pojawia się i znika display begins on the patio in front of Warsaw’s MPO sheds, where Nowy Teatr has its new headquarters. It starts with a speculation on the future of theatre and an attempt to answer the question posed in Warlikowski's newest production, Warsaw Cabaret (for which the scenography was of course created by Szczęśniak), namely: What would the world be without us? The "us" in question being the theatre.

The promenade then evolves into an acoustic walk through the meanders and hidden corners of the post-industrial shed. Wasilkowska creates a subjective and fragmented view of Szczęśniak's most recognisable traits: movement, the performative aspects of space, a blurring of the frontier between stage and audience, and the creation of surrealist imagery.

Visitors to the exhibition hear a mix of dialogues from the performances, intertwined with new texts written by the curator Wasilkowska and the playwright Gruszczyński, as well as music by Paweł Mykietyn. In a talk with Gazeta Wyborcza, Wasilkowska reveals that the collage of memories also includes drawings for unrealised productions, and that the display attempts to capture the childhood years of Szczęśniak in Kraków.

In a talk with Wasilkowska, Małgorzata Szczęśniak declared

I can say that I don’t like the theatre, its closed and claustrophobic space. I don’t feel good in closed, small, dark places. In a traditional theatre everything is conventional and this limits from all sides the possibility of breathing - both for the spectator, and the actor. The only way to change it is by tearing down the unnecessary boundaries and creating open spaces which are in harmony with the natural rhythm and the rhythm of a human being. Logic is the madness of an ordered abstraction. Thus, I begin with this idea, in order not to get bored, not to limit myself, and to feel the openness of the space, and the openness of the mind and ideas that follow from it. The possibility of an exploration. The possibility of taking a huge gulp of the open space, in which our theatre is played.

The most recent production for which Szczęśniak developed the stage design is the Warlikowski's Warsaw Cabaret, showing at the 2013 Avignon Festival. Warlikowski, who always collaborates with Szczęśniak, revealed some of the discreet symbolism of objects employed in the production. In a talk with the bibliobs.nouvelobs.com, the director was asked about the nearly never failing presence of a sink or a bidet in Szczęśniak's designs for his performances. He commented that

They are simply the mark of the intimate, never an esthetic sign. On the set of Warsaw Cabaret, there are other intimate spaces - a box of transparent glass where barely two people can enter. This symbolic space, closed off, but also the place from which the spectator can perceive the couple's gaze, for me it speaks of the fear of living without the body of another that covers us and gives us the warmth necessary to survive.

"Pojawia się i znika. Archeologia scenografii Małgorzaty Szczęśniak"
Appearing and Vanishing. The Archeology of Małgorzata Szczęśniak’s Stage Design

Concept and exhibition design by Aleksandra Wasilkowska


The exhibition runs through to the 31st of August, 2013 at the Nowy Teatr headquarters in Warsaw. The admission is free of charge

Paulina Schlosser, source: www.nowyteatr.org, wyborcza.pl; 17.07.2013

Facebook Twitter Reddit Share

Did you like our article? English newsletter here

Sign up for newsletter

  • 0 subscribers
  • In accordance with the law from August 29, 1997, relating to the protection of personal data (consolidated text, Journal of Laws, 2002, no. 101, Item 926), I am hereby giving my formal consent to the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, located at 25 Mokotowska Street in Warsaw (00-560), to process my personal data.

  • Email Marketingby GetResponse
See also:
Carol singers in Bukowina Tatrzańska, photo: Adrian Gładecki/Reporter

Poland really loves its Christmas carols. And there are thousands of them. One even nearly became the national anthem. Here’s a quick look at the history of the genre and its most popular examples. Read more about: The Power of Polish Christmas Carols

Joseph Conrad, 1923

The Polish government has announced that 2017 will be a year to commemorate Adam Chmielowski, Joseph Conrad, Tadeusz Kościuszko, Honorat Koźmiński, Józef Piłsudski, and the Wisła river. Under UNESCO’s patronage, the 200th anniversary of Kościuszko’s death and the 100th anniversary of Ludwik Zamenhof’s death will also be marked. Read more about: 2017: A Year of Anniversaries

King Roger directed by Kasper Holten, photo: Bill Cooper / The Royal Opera

Nagranie opery Karola Szymanowskiego wystawionej w Convent Garden – Royal Opera House zostało nominowane do nagród amerykańskiej Recording Academy. Nominację do prestiżowej statuetki otrzymał również Krzysztof Penderecki. Read more about: King Roger & Penderecki Nominated for Grammys

Dagadana & friends, photo: press materials

In the World Music Charts Europe, a prestigeous ranking of the 150 best albums of 2016, prepared by the members of the Worldmusic Workshop of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), DAGADANA’s album Meridian 68 was ranked 48th. Read more about: DAGADANA's Meridian 68 on World Music Charts Europe's Ranking of Best Albums 2016

A fragment of a score, photo: press materials

The Adam Mickiewicz Institute together with the Fryderyk Chopin Institute is about to publish Polish Composers' Autographs at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1900. Read more about: Polish Composers' Autographs at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1900

Photograph form the rehearsal of Island, photo by M. Bral, Song of the Goat Theatre

Island, a performance inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and on an old Icelandic tradition of telling dreams to the dying, directed by Grzegorz Bral for the Song of the Goat Theatre from Wrocław. It premiered on 1st December, 2016. Read more about: Island, dir. Grzegorz Bral