LGBTI refugees stole a piece of art and the artist is loving it

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LGBTIQ+ Refugees in Greece stole a piece of art at the documenta14 festival

A group of LGBTI refugees has stolen a piece of art – and the artist is loving it.

LGBTIQ+ Refugees in Greece is a local activist group campainging for LGBTI refugees’ right to stay.

And now they have stolen a piece of art to make a point about the circumstances they live in.

The piece in question is a giant rock modeled after a stone from the Agora, ancient Athens’s marketplace.

It was part of a performance called The Place of the Thing, which in turn was part of art festival documenta 14.

The exhibition, often called the 100-day museum, takes places every five years and runs for exactly 100 days. This year, it runs in Athens and then in his German hometown of Kassel.

The stone was supposed to travel to Germany in early June, but LGBTIQ+ Refugees in Greece stole the piece on Sunday and captured it all on video.

‘Habibati (arabic for ‘my love/beloved’), you have come looking for your stone, but your stone has been stolen,’ they said.

They quote the artists’ instruction to interact with the piece as the reason for kidnapping it.

The stone, they said, is supposed to give people the chance to tell their stories.

‘We have stolen your stone and we will not give it back,’ they said.

‘Your stone may have been deported to Turkey, after appealing twice.

‘Your stone may be on a flight to Sweden with is new €2,000 fake passport.

‘Your stone may be driven to suicide in Moira detention center, desperate for freedom.

‘Your stone may be waiting in line outside the office of Katehaki, its asylum interview again postponed.

‘Your stone may be selling its body to strangers in Pedion Tou Areos.

‘Your stone may be legally recognized as a refugee but sleeping on the street.’

All these events are known to have happened. Many refugees have been stranded in Greece for months while waiting to hear about their asylum status.

Some of them are so desperate, they have started working as prostitutes; the same seems to be happening in Germany, where asylum seekers are excluded from entering the work force for a certain time.

And the artist, Spaniard Roger Bernat, is far from upset – quite the opposite, actually.

He contacted the group, saying they had a feeling ‘it was in the air’.

‘Our fear, when starting the project, was of not being able to meet any collective enthusiastic enough to believe that the stone had some specific symbolical value: something we never believed (for the same reason we have two more copies of the same stone, one here in Athens and a second one ready to show off in Kassel),’ he said.

‘How do you want to be mentioned in the program at Kassel? We wish we could see as soon as possible the publicity of your action on the social webs, and the pics of it.

‘It was a bit politically incongruous to keep the money, but we understand that you may need it for your creative and political purposes.

‘Speaking of politics: hey guys, if stealing a fake stone because you believe it symbolizes anything or has any value is the only political action you’re capable of, maybe you should check your political agenda and your artistic parameters!

‘Thank you anyway: enjoy the stone, the money and the Rockumenta: it’s an outstanding contribution to the general aims of the D14.’

Documenta 14 runs from 8 April to 16 July in Athens, and from 10 June to 17 September in Kassel.

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