Filmoteka Muzeum

Intimate Rites shows the artist taking care of his grandmother Regina G., then over ninety years old and unable to care for herself or communicate with the world due to old age and sickness. Libera for over two years fed, washed and changed her, put her to sleep, and so on.

Intimate Rites speaks of the self’s ultimate failure, of the reification of old age and death that await each one of us. But it is also a story of ultimate subjectification, expressed in the artist’s gestures as he cares for his grandmother in an altruistic gift of love. The video shows the self’s greatest failure and at the same time its greatest triumph. Intimate Rites reflects Libera’s unique in-between position in the art world of the 1980s (the position of Kierkegaardian ‘either/or’).

On the one hand, it is possible to imagine the piece being shown at a church screening room as a work about love, sacrifice, devotion. But unlike most productions of Church-affiliated art, instead of placing these (Christian) values in an abstract symbolic sphere (which entailed no effort or necessity of turning them into reality), Libera documented their actual implementation in real life.

On the other hand, the video fits perfectly within Marek Janiak’s concept of “embarrassing art”, one of the most interesting artistic ideas of Kultura Zrzuty (Chip-In Culture). Viewed from this perspective, Intimate Rites shows Libera as a self that altruistically cultivates a fragment of the world he feels close to (symbolised by his grandmother). Operating in the spirit of embarrassing art, the film demonstrates how values such as love, devotion or altruism, eluding rational thinking (and thus radically transgressing our habitual, exchange-based communication relations with other people’s reality) can evoke in us a sense of embarrassment, since they show our weakness.

Quoted from: Ł. Ronduda, Zbigniew Libera’s Life and Work 1982-2008, [in:] Zbigniew Libera. Works from 1982-2008, D. Monkiewicz {ed.), exhibition catalogue, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw 2009.

Year: 1984
Duration: 11'42"
Language: no language
Source: VHS

© Zbigniew Libera, courtesy Raster Gallery

Acquisition date: Dec 21, 2010
Acquisition: deposit
Ownership form: deposit