Of All The People In All The World: The Great Art Giveaway

As part of Depot Erbe
Theater Freiburg & Museum für Neue Kunst Freiburg
4 – 9 April 2017

Freiburg 2017

While performing Of All The People In All The World in Freiburg in February 2016 conversations started around a collaboration between Theater Freiburg and the local modern art museum. They were looking to mount an exhibition which would focus on the legacy, traces or archives of art and we were asked how Of All The People In All The World could fit into this theme.

As the 2016 performance drew to a close members of the public were asked to take away and look after a bag of rice for a year. A museum archive book was completed detailing what ‘art work’ was out on loan to which person. During the year that followed these custodians were asked to photograph their rice in their home and to perhaps record population statistics that interested them through the year.

In a small room in the Museum für Neue Kunst Freiburg, with the remains of another installation stored beside us on wooden shelving we built a small version of Of All The People In All The World. This version displayed statistics linked to the previous Freiburg show but updated and statistics covering significant events that had happened in the intervening time.

On the walls we installed the photographs of the rice in storage and as these bags were returned they were placed underneath the photographs. We started to create new areas of the show responding to the ideas and numbers brought back by the custodians.

The most significant new element for this presentation and the element that gave it the title The Great Art Giveaway was a focus on sealing rice in labelled bags and giving it away. The labels explained that the bag was an art object, but that if the owner wished to eat the rice then this was possible so long as it was washed and well cooked. Over the first four days more than 400 bags were made of varying sizes. These were given away to visitors to the exhibition. On the fifth and sixth days a table was set up in the street outside the gallery and rice bags given away from there.

On the final day all the statistics laid out in the show were sealed in bags with archive labels identifying them. These were left with the gallery as the installation in kit form ready for storage.

Rice not stored in the museum and not taken by the public was donated to a local zoo.

Highlights: Welcoming back rice from last year and speaking with their kind and enthusiastic custodians. Plus, watching the intrigue at the ‘giveaway’ table outside.

Lowlights: The white paper didn’t look great on the white floor.


Performed by: Craig Stephens and James Yarker
With variously: Victoria, Luka, Maria and Katarina
Executive Producer: Roisin Caffrey
Administrator: Laura Killeen
For Theater Frieburg:
Anne Kersting: Artistic Director
Janne Callsen: Production Manager
Luka Fritsch: Assistant
Johanna Schreier: Assistant