Weekend Words: Stone

Gustave Courbet, “The Stonebreakers” (1849). Oil on canvas, 165 x 257 cm. Gemäldegalerie, Dresden (destroyed). (image via Web Gallery of Art)

On Wednesday, Hyperallergic’s Jillian Steinhauer brought the news of Marina Abramović’s latest endeavor, a video collaboration with Adidas reenacting the artist’s performance piece, “Work/Relation,” from 1978:

In case anyone was unclear on the branding going on here, the 11 performers wear Adidas shell-toe sneakers and Marina Abramović Institute apron-coats
The Adidas video features 11 people (the same number as a soccer team in play) demonstrating the different methods that Abramović and Ulay tried for transporting stones: each alone with a bucket, two people sharing buckets, or in a human chain. In voice-over, Abramović delivers the (completely unexpected) conclusion: “The chain is the most efficient message. The chain has the most endurance. The chain stays forever.” Unless that chain is the Brazilian World Cup team. (Too soon?)

“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

—William Faulkner

“The stone unhewn and cold
Becomes a living mould,
The more the marble wastes
The more the statue grows.”

—Michelangelo Buonarroti

“Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.”


“Poetry is the liquid voice that can wear through stone.”

—Adrienne Rich, What Is Found There

“Let him that is without stone among you cast the first thing he can lay his hands on.”

—Robert Frost

“The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.”

—Sigmund Freud

“The last resort of kings, the cannonball. The last resort of the people, the paving stone.”

—Victor Hugo

“If you can take the hot lead enema, then you can cast the first stone.”

—Lenny Bruce

“The Feet, mechanical, go round —
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought —
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone — ”

—Emily Dickinson, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes —”

“The observer, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone, is really, if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of the stone upon himself.”

—Bertrand Russell

“Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.”

—William Butler Yeats, “Easter 1916”

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