The Water Hen

Arthur Watson (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Other contribution


‘The Water Hen’ (Kurka Wodna) is an exhibition and associated book, inspired by the discovery of forgotten film footage from 1972, restored by Adam Lockhart, curated and edited by Arthur Watson and Euan McArthur for the Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture (RSA) in 2015, the UNESCO year of Kantor. Both were developed in partnership with The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and Cricoteka Museum of Tadeusz Kantor, Kraków, Poland. 

The important documentary by Kantor’s Cricot 2 was the centrepiece of both the exhibition and the book, capturing the previously lost key performance presented in an obsolete video format, discovered in the Demarco Archive, by far the most complete record of this production in existence. 

Premiered in 2015, the RSA commissioned six contemporary artists to make new filmed performances in response to Kantor to be included in the exhibition. Watson and Colin Greenslade, RSA’s Director, selected them from an open call in Scotland and Poland. The accompanying book details the restoration, transcription, translation and subtitling and the further illumination mapped by Demarco’s photographs, for the first time chronologically sequenced. The book was launched in Poland at Cricoteka, with a screening and members of the original cast. Further screenings took place in Warsaw, Gdansk, Tokyo, Berlin, Venice, and São Paulo, and was central to an exhibition which attracted 90,000 visitors. Watson’s presentation at the Year of Kantor press conference at the Mickeiwicz Institute, Warsaw, received national publicity.

Watson’s visits to Poland and a grant of 6.6k were funded by Mickeiwicz. The office of Consul General of the Republic of Poland worked on translations and proofreading, and provided a grant of £9k. The Henry Moore Foundation contributed £2k, and the RSA granted £8k towards Kantor’s legacy. In-kind support came from RSA, NGS and Hidden Doors Festival (all funds to researcher).
Original languageEnglish
TypeMulti Component Output
PublisherUniversity of Dundee
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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