The essence of Il peso del mio corpo da un blocco di pietra del peso di una barca already lies within the title. This sculpture consists of a block of stone whose weight is equivalent to the weight of a boat, which was used by clandestine migrants. It was later drilled and reduced to the exact weight of the artist himself. In April Francesco Arena went to the island Lampedusa, located in the South of Sicily, last appendix of Southern Europe. This island is also used as a landing spot for numerous boats coming from Libya and the rest of Northern Africa. For the most part, migrants reach Lampedusa on large wooden crafts around seven metres long, with a weight that varies between 600 and 800 kilograms.
The artist visited the deposit of wrecks in Taccio Vecchio, focusing on the ones that were to be demolished on command of Italian authorities. Having weighted one of the boats he then cut a block of “Pierre bleue” (a sedimentary stone), so it would weight the same amount of 700 kg as the chosen wreck. The block of marble was subsequently emptied and its weight was reduced to the one of the artist himself, 69,60 kg, still maintaining the original dimensions (100x80x32,8 cm). The artist has chosen stone for his work because he required a material that would not change weight during the process.
The sculpture basically consists of two main specifications: first of all the weight of the boat, that gives away the dimensions of the block of marble and following the weight of the artist, that demands the procedure of drilling, the disposal of the material and finally the definite shape of the work.
The finished sculpture is the result of a long procedure of subtraction of material, which eventually served as the weight of a container swamped with migrants. The artist, as an individual, tries to get in touch with this fairly unknown story. Besides being a reflection on the medium of sculpture as a whole, naturally, this work of art is also a self-portrait and the experiment of placing his own effigy into a remote ambiance, and grafting it onto a distant collective tale.
Considering the fact that this sculpture includes a form of subtraction, the work of Francesco Arena becomes therefore a statement: the artist works with the limits of the sculpture, starting from the choice of materials to the use of tools, that allow a subtraction (90%) of the weight of a volume that does not change dimensions.