On the Politics of Delicacy
Capitain Petzel is pleased to announce the group exhibition On the Politics of Delicacy conceived around the Robert Anton Theatre Collection. In the early 1970s Robert Anton (1949-1984) created a surreal miniature theatre which quickly achieved cult status and fascinated audiences both in the US and Europe. By bringing together multiple influences – from Antonin Artaud’s writings on the Theatre of Cruelty, alchemist principles of transformation and hybridity, post-WWI characters of George Grosz and Otto Dix, to the eccentric creatures of Hieronymus Bosch; but also early Hollywood and Disney motives, Federico Fellini’s baroque fantasies, and pop cultural impulses of his era – Anton created a unique visual language. Due to the intimacy of his performances which often took place in his loft with a maximum capacity of 18 spectators, his plays remained something of New York’s best-kept secret, a refuge into the surreal imaginary. The exhibition gives insight into Anton’s work by showing his intriguingly sculpted figurines (effectively, his ‘actors’), props and drawings.
At Capitain Petzel, curator Anke Kempkes contextualises the oeuvre of Robert Anton for the first time by unfolding thematic trajectories that resonate with his work, namely the politics of the home theatre, surrealist political theatre, the concept of ‘monstrosity’ in postwar female avant-garde sculpture, a new female painterly symbolism, and queer performativity in times of political polarization. With such specific trajectories in mind, a dynamic dialogue takes place between Anton’s oeuvre and works permeating both genre and epoch by German Dada artist Hannah Höch and Spanish poet and theatre director Federico García Lorca; Anton’s theatre pioneer contemporary Tadeusz Kantor and scenographer Kazimierz Wisniak; works by Liliane Lijn; post-modernist and queer artists from East and West Duggie Fields, Jimmy De Sana, Krzysztof Jung, Raúl Martínez and Zoe Leonard; and contemporary artists Yael Bartana, Joanna Piotrowska, Stanislava Kovalcikova, Karolina Jablonska, Mikolaj Sobczak, Nicholas Grafia, Billy Morgan and Uel.
The Robert Anton Theatre collection was previously on display at Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw (2018); The Edge, Bath University Gallery (2019); and Tramway, Glasgow (2019).
Our special thanks go to Anke Kempkes and the Bette Stoler Collection, New York.