Krzysztof Plesniarowicz’s The Dead Memory Machine, translated into English by William Brand, is a hugely revised, expanded and updated version of the first book-length study of Kantor’s Theatre of Death, originally published in Polish in 1990, including many additional images and illustrations.
“When man and his work cease to exist, memory remains, a message sent into the future, to the coming generations…” This book is “this message” in its careful exegesis not only of what the archives remember about Kantor via the stored materials, but also, and maybe more important, of how one can intersect with Kantor’s memory machines – The Dead Class, Wielopole, Wielopole, Let the Artists Die, I Shall Never Return, and Today is My Birthday. This is a highly nuanced analysis of spatial memories materialized in the manifold of Kantor’s space of representation. This analysis complements Part I of the book which focuses on the contours of Kantor’s biography and cultural lineage as well as Kantor’s experiments with the (eternal) avant-garde art of the second half of the XXth century – the Informel Art, Emballages, Happenings, and his own ‘theatre of essence’ and ephemeral memories. – Michal Kobialka, Professor in History/Literature, Department of Theatre, Arts and Dance, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota.’