Description by Filmoteka Muzeum
The film To Stone documents the action carried out by Alicja Żebrowska in 1993 at the Centre of Polish Sculpture in Orońsko, Poland, where the artist was locked naked inside a stone sarcophagus heated to the temperature of the human body. In the course of time the stone grew cooler – when its temperature dropped below 36 degrees Celsius, Żebrowska was released from the sarcophagus, which had effectively separated her from the stimuli of the external world for over half an hour.
While building on the opposition “dead – alive”, the action is also highly meditative, possibly ritual in character. It is supposed to lead to a dialogue between human and natural energy. Beyond any doubt, this dialogue is at the same time a confrontation – a pre-figuration of the ultimate combat with the forces of nature, where the human being can only be defeated. Therefore To Stone evokes border states related to leaving one’s own body and the experience of death.
The situation is marked for a paradoxical inversion. The stone heated to the temperature of 36.6 degrees Celsius acquires a property of the human body – and it is the stone that changes by cooling down, while the human body locked inside it retains its warmth. Yet the person inside also witnesses change, though instead of physical decomposition, she is dealing with a profound emotional and mental breakthrough (the artists’ sensations during the action proved so strong that any re-enactment was made impossible).
References: I. Kowalczyk, Ciało i władza. Polska sztuka krytyczna lat 90., Warsaw 2002; K. Wielebska, Death of a Butterfly Keeper , [w:] exhibition catalogue, lokal_30, Warsaw 2011.