Tag Archives: Antonin Artaud


The plays of Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (1885–1939,* born in Warsaw, and known as Witkacy) languished in relative obscurity throughout most of their creator’s short life. A home country revival took place in the 1950s, and adventurous theater companies in Western Europe and the United States started producing his work in the 1970s.

A key figure of the European avant-garde—a peer of Artaud, Beckett, Genet, and IonescoWitkacy’s resolutely anti-realist theater work has inspired WITKACY / TWO-HEADED CALF, a new collaboration by Natalia Korczakowska (the artistic director of Warsaw’s Studio Teatrgaleria), and CalArts Center for New Performance.

Witkacy believed that nature can be a source of metaphysical experience that gives us a chance to protect our individuality from the soulless social machine of Western civilization. WITKACY / TWO-HEADED CALF is a journey of a neurotic boy and his family from Poland to the California desert—and also a journey into the depths of oneself.**

For the next eight days at Redcat, performing artists from Studio Teatrgaleria and CalArts will present the American premiere engagement of this sui generis production.


Friday and Saturday, October 18 and 19, at 8:30 pm.

Sunday, October 20, at 3 pm.

Tuesday through Friday, October 22, 23, 24, and 25, at 8:30 pm.


631 West 2nd Street, downtown Los Angeles.

*Witkacy allegedly committed suicide upon hearing of the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, but when his grave was disinterred many years later, the body reportedly belonged to someone else.

Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz and Natalia Korczakowska, WITKACY/Two-Headed Calf, performance photographs by Rafal Nowak and Hao Feng. Images courtesy and © the photographers, the performers, the director, Studio Teatrgaleria, and CalArts Center for New Performance.


“In 1983, Ben Neill moved from Ohio to New York City. What was going on at the time in music was a very free improvisatory kind of style, a way of fusing different elements together through oppositions and similarities. The result was rather superficial. Ben was more interested in isolating some elements in order to produce a kind of deep resonance keeping each element separate, unexpected, untimely, a kind of creative chaos, in which the pieces clashed and resonated in the distance without ever being pinned down logically. It was the aesthetic of the collage. This is what attracted Ben to David Wojnarowicz’s work.

“With David you always got the feeling that the pieces weren’t randomly chosen; they made some kind of underlying structure that held the pieces together. There was something in his visual work that Ben was trying to do in a musical sense, putting together styles from different historical periods and contemporary forms, but always with the idea of creating some kind of larger by-product. It was very profound. So he called up David and he suggested that they do a collaborative piece at the Kitchen with him. And this was ITSOFOMO [In the Shadow of Forward Motion].

“In 1946 Antonin Artaud recorded a radio version of his famous text To Have Done with the Judgment of God. Directed by Artaud himself, this remarkable recording set shrieks and drumbeats inspired by the Tarahumara Indians against Artaud’s reading of a text about the mid-century American technology of war. War in a test tube, as the Virus of the Invisible, a destruction that is accomplished without bodily contact, spreading as seamlessly as the dream-transmission of primitive plagues.

“Fifty years later we are plagued by the invisible violence of a technology so accelerated that human life has come to a standstill. A globe cut up into cities of dead time. The texts that Wojnarowicz reads are an antidote to abstraction. Passionate, grounded, and dead precise, these texts violently reclaim the body by forcing us to experience the visceral reality of space and time. Set against Neill’s delicate, composed mutantrumpet, percussion, interactive electronics, and South American ethno-music, ITSOFOMO‘s forward motion becomes a battle to reclaim the organism of life.” — Sylvére Lotringer*

This weekend, Wojnarowicz and Neill’s multimedia performance piece ITSOFOMO will be restaged and performed by Neill and Don Yallech at KW Berlin.


Friday, April 26, at 8 pm.

Saturday, April 27, at 6 pm.

KW Institute for Contemporary Art

KW Hall

Auguststrasse 69, Berlin.

*Sylvère Lotringer, in conjunction with the 1992 CD ITSOFOMO by David Wojnarowicz and Ben Neill, and included in the liner notes for the 2018 vinyl release by Jabs.

From top: David Wojnarowicz, ITSOFOMO, performance (1) and rehearsal (2, 3) at the Kitchen, 1989, photographs © Andreas Sterzing; Ben Neill (left) and Don Yallech perform ITSOFOMO at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 2018.


Directed by Germaine Dulac from a script by Antonin Artaud, LA COQUILLE ET LE CLERGYMAN (1927) was the first film of Surrealism, premiering a year before Buñuel and Dalí’s Un Chien andalou.

This weekend—as part of the UCLA Film and Television Archive series The Cinematic Impressions of Germaine Dulac—a screening of La Coquille will close an afternoon selection of Dulac shorts.

Live musical accompaniment will be provided by Elaine Carey Haswell and Cliff Retallick.



Saturday, September 15, at 3 pm.

Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles.

Scenes from La Coquille et le clergyman.




“There were some joyful moments in 1968, feast-like, maybe Dyonisian here and there, but mainly we were serious and grave, first because we hated the greasy laugh of our elders, but also because we could not get satisfaction.” — Patrick Deval, director of ACÉPHALE*

As part of its Zanzibar Films series, Cinefamily presents a rare screening of ACÉPHALE, a 1968 feature that documents the lives of young Parisians navigating the immediate aftermath of May ’68. One translation of its title—taken from Georges Bataille’s journal—indicates the need to move beyond rational thought:

“I became a bit radical in my refusal of Western civilization, constantly raving about the end of the white man. Rouch was closer to this view, becoming himself a joyful African in the oral tradition. But that was not so far from Rimbaud, Artaud, or Gauguin when he decided to ‘ensavage’ himself.” — Deval*

ACÉPHALE will be preceded by a screening of Serge Bard’s DETRUISEZ-VOUS.

ACÉPHALE, Saturday, August 26, at 6 pm.

CINEFAMILY, 611 North Faifax Avenue, Los Angeles.


Image: Scene from Acéphale.

See Deval’s interview in Senses of Cinema:

Deval in ’68: An Interview with Patrick Deval



REDCAT is wrapping up its 2017 New Original Works festival with three performances of ARTAUD IN THE BLACK LODGE, which draws a musical-lyrical line from the great avant-garde dramatist/poet/director through the work of William S. Burroughs and David Lynch, and back again. This collaboration between composer David T. Little, librettist/poet Anne Waldman, the Isaura String Quartet, the operatic rock band Timur and The Dime Museum, and director Lydia Steier sounds like the highlight of the summer.

Also on the bill: BUTCH BALLET—writer/director Gina Young’s “love letter to female masculinity”—performed, sans ballet, with love and brilliance by Gino Conti, Jenn Crockett, Eli Eileen, Jess Imme, and CT Treibel; and C, a movement/video piece by Luis Lara Malvacías and Jeremy Nelson.*

ARTAUD IN THE BLACK LODGE, BUTCH BALLET, and C, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, August 10, 11, and 12. All shows at 8:30 pm.

REDCAT, DISNEY HALL, Music Center, downtown Los Angeles.

* redcat.org/event/now-festival-2017-week-three

See: Sylvère Lotringer, Mad Like Artaud (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015).

Timur and The Dime Museum. Photograph by Jill Steinberg.

21c Liederabend, op.3 approved 4