Intimate Rites and Mystical Perseverance, Z. Libera, art videos
Libera – a pioneer of video art – intensively documented Polish artistic life throughout the 1980s, including parties and plein air trips of the Pitch-in Culture milieu as well as exhibitions and performances of fellow artists.
He recorded his closest family as well, in private situations, including his 90-year-old bedridden grandmother, with whom he had close ties, and after whom he took care afer being released from prison.
Camera registers a man in his twenties feeding, bathing and changing diapers of his grandmother. It also registers how the grandmother, in advanced dementia, spins around an iron chamber pot on the floor, in regular sequence. Libera identified this strange behavior as a kind of mystic ritual substituting rosary prayer. After awhile, Libera assembled these recordings into a short films and started to show them to befriended artists and curators. That is how some of the earliest, strongest and best known works of Polish video art were made (Intimate rites 1984, Mystical Perseverance 1984).
In the context of these pieces, Libera characterizes his work as „private art” – created without the intention of reaching wider public. He also calls his work – in the words of his artist friend Marek Janiak – the „art of embarrassment”. „It brings forth an effect of embarrassment, confusion, it throws the viewer off balance, out of the normal course of thought” – said Libera in an interview with Łukasz Gorczyca and Artur Żmijewski. – „Its beauty lies in an error, in some exceptional dud, in an unknown situation, in the oddity, the puzzlement.”
These films by Libera should also be interpreted in the context of the discussions on senility, illness and death, bias towards youth in visual culture, but also the gender inequality in domestic and care work.
Warszawa Pańska 3, Poland
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- Szenajch, Piotr