Aleksander Wasilewicz1956

Theatre Institute in Warsaw

Theatre Institute in Warsaw
Warszaw, Poland

Staged by Tadeusz Kantor with costumes designed by Maria Jarema, Witkacy’s “Cuttlefish” depicted the conflict between art and power. The main protagonist, the artist Bezdeka, takes up a struggle for power over people’s hearts with Hyrkan IV, a despotic sovereign. The performance was thought to contain political allusions. In his review of the play, Zbigniew Herbert wrote: “For a viewer who watched the performance of ‘The Cuttlefish’ in May 1956 –Hyrkania, a country where a few infallible go through an orgy of holding power over the society or ‘one huge crowd of dispersed swine’, this was neither abstraction nor, unfortunately, a utopia” (Zbigniew Herbert, “Teatr Cricot”, “Twórczość” 1957, no. 7). In the photograph, Ella and Bezdeka are kneeling like they were to be married. They are accompanied by two Dead Wives. The ceremony is conducted by Pope Julius II. Dead Wives: Stefania Górniak, Zofia Bielawska, Ella: Maria Ciesielska, Pope Julius II: Marian Słojkowski, Bezdeka: Kazimierz Mikulski.


  • Title: “Cuttlefish”
  • Creator: Aleksander Wasilewicz
  • Date: 1956
  • Location: Dom Plastyków, Kraków

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