Press Release:

Since the name of the project is THE PLACE OF THE THING, let’s put things in its place.

0) The supposedly stolen stone is an exact replica of the Oath “lithos” from the Athenian Agora, made of porexpan, fiberglass and acrylic paint. It weighs 50 Kg and measures 250x90x50 cm. Outside of the project, its value is close to nothing. Although it can be used as an outdoor seat, as a table, as a (not so confortable) bed or as a monolith for interior or garden decoration. Since its arrival in Athens, the stone was toured during one week by different collectives and groups around different places, including public schools, museums, bars, embassies, parks, private houses, squares and state institutions.

1) This project, thought as a deconstruction of the notion of Thingspiel, is about seeing which kind of cultural meaning, political value or even religious charisma can acquire for different collectives and individuals an archeological piece. And to see how individuals and collectives can negotiate the absolute pretext the object represents (or also in which measure they develop a kind of belief in its artificial charisma). Each one of the individuals and collectives we consulted on the project created its own idea of it. This group (the LGBTQI refugees) hasn’t done anything different. The piece of scenography (actually a fake stone) was never stolen: we delivered it personally.  Simply, it was never given back. There are no Robin Hoods here.

2) We knew since the beginning that the stone could be stolen, and somehow it was a part of the general aim of the project to have it kidnapped or even destroyed. That’s why we decided to have two more copies of it.

3) The “stone” in question is nothing of a “work of art”. It’s a cheap fake totally devoided of any material and even symbolical value. It takes its value from the importance people give to it. And we must say that the LGBTQI refugees collective was the most willing to surrender to the temptation of giving some kind of symbolical value to that reproduction. We’re grateful for their enthousiasm.

4) Do you think that if ever we or Documenta had thought that the stone had any value in itself, it would have been delivered so easily and with no assurances to any collective asking for it?

5) It’s quite clear that the “stealing” of the stone and the subsequent video was the manipulation of a collective in order for some persons (who are not necessarily the members of the collective itself) to gain some visibility in an art manifestation.

6) The collective was never “purchased”. Having a budget for the project, we simply decided to share the money between all the associations and collective that willingly declared themselves interested in doing something with the stone. If we hadn’t offered any money, we would have felt that we were luring people into sharing the project for nothing. At the same time, whatever they were wishing to do with the stone (even nothing at all) , we still thought that they might have production costs. Once more: there are no heroes, here.

7) When declaring that they have “stolen a work of art” from the Documenta,  the ones who speak in the name of the collective are lying twice: because they received the stone from our hands in the street at an accorded meeting (we attach a photo of it) and because if they really wanted to attack the establishment, maybe they should steal a REAL work of art from the EMST or any museum (what they evidently won’t do). No heroes, here.

8) We never asked ABSOLUTELY anything to the collective: no specific actions, no thematic performances, not even an act about their condition of refugees. Their accusation of exoticism is slightly hysterical. And once more: they asked to be a part of the project and now accuse us of wanting to purchase them? Even better: if they thought that their action would go against the project, we’re sorry to say that their video is right the kind of action around the stone we’re wishing to feature in its trip to Kassel.

9) We’re convinced that what lies behind all this clever operation is more the anxiety of some organizers to put in practice what they remember of a superficial reading of Guy Debord, and to have their personal moment of glory, than a real concern about the concrete interest of the members of the collective (the organizers are each day at the Documenta : they love to be there)

10) To go back to the financial question. In some case the collectives didn’t accept any money. But in the case of this collective, since the beginning THEY accepted the money we offered to cover the expenses they could have for whatever they were to do with the stone. And we thought that it was correct. Once more: while we were not giving any special meaning to the money, the sensation is that they asked it only in order to cry out at the right moment their scandal for being “purchased” (another typical narcyssistic-hysterical scheme).

11) And most of all, if they really believe that the money from us, which is the money from Documenta, is tainted, why keeping it? Even in this, they’ve surpassed our best expectations. One of the principles of the project is the idea that sacralizing a stone as if it were a totem is right the contrary of a political action. If the LGBTQI refugees or its spokesmen think that stealing a fake stone as if it was worth anything – and celebrating their triumph around it – is a true political action or a good artistic deconstruction, maybe they should check their political agenda or their artistic parameters. Playing with the stone, they’re taking it dramatically seriously.

12) Thanks to the LGBTQI refugees the project has gained more visibility than it ever had. For what may concern the complaints featured in the leaflet and video the collective issued, and their consistency in relation to the practical content of their action, it’s our strong political belief that, as an artist and as a refugee, you are doomed to be a victim if victimism is your only political weapon.

Roberto Fratini, Roger Bernat/ FFF