Sisyphus Stones Creator Pledges to Keep Building After ‘Taliban’-Like Destruction

Uliks Gryka, the artist who has been constructing stone sculptures by the Hudson River for the past year, posted a sign next to the river this week after one of his creations was destroyed. Gryka compared the person who took the stones apart to the Taliban and Isis.

“My creations have been violated, not by a drunkard or a drug addict, but by someone who had the intention to do it,” he wrote. We’ve posted an image of the entire sign below. David Brotsky took the photos.


Click to enlarge.

Gryka had previously said he would stop building the stones in August after the one-year anniversary of when he began. But he now says he’s more determined than ever to keep building. “I am the guardian of the garden,” he wrote.

The photos below show the site after the stones were taken down.

Gryka earlier this year:

Also spotted on this morning’s ride..this is Ulysses Gryka, the guy who’s been building the Sisyphus Stones up by the GWB. I’ve been admiring these for a while so it was cool to finally see the guy at work. Good write-up at https://nyti.ms/2eYPpU8 #urbanart #sisyphusstones

A post shared by Ray Bradley (@rgb3) on

Such a great story. Albanian immigrant #UliksGryka has been assembling these well balanced stacks since last July as a ‘healing practice’ to clear his mind while seeking employment in the trained field, conflict and security. #sisyphusstones #onlyinny #outsiderart

A post shared by Jan Sloniewski (@shithitthefanjj) on

ART, NEWS, OUTDOORS | 17 comments | permalink
    1. Oona says:

      Such sadness at the destruction of public artwork anyone would be delighted to chance upon. I wonder if there is any footage of the peep or peeps entering or leaving the area… is it coincidental destruction occurred shortly after being publicized online? Anyway even though I was never able to see the work in person I appreciated knowing it was there, a chance magical in NYC

    2. brian says:

      wow, get over yourself bro. Use your “gifted time and energy” to do something besides stack rocks

      • Uliks Gryka says:

        In fact as I lift the stones, I am performing zika (google the term if you ignore it). There is not a better way to spend your time than performing it. I come from a tradition that is very different from yours.

    3. brenda says:

      It’s hard to harness any optimism for humanity after seeing this.

    4. Scott says:

      They didn’t cairn for his work I guess.

    5. Jimbo says:

      My guess is teen boys. Signs have no impact on them.
      High testosterone equals destructiveness.

    6. Dave says:

      This guy claims to have invented this when in reality its been a new trend for folks to copy this indigenous practice in parks all across the country in some kind attempt at profundity and faux originality. It was interesting to look at for a week or so but in reality its not good for the ecosystem or the shore line. I’ve seen people be badly hurt by his tumbling boulders and he felt no responsibility- he openly berated them for knocking over his delicate tower he built in a public space. I am surprised the city hasn’t intervened because these things do topple and he is getting more and more risky with the size of the boulders he precariously elevates 6 and 7 feet high. Someone will get badly hurt or killed eventually. Its really a nuisance. Get a new hobby, guy!

      • Ish Kabibble says:

        LOL, you and Brian seem like loads of laughs! Please develop some empathy and humor.

      • Uliks says:

        I never claimed to have invented anything. I simply performed what I had read about in archaeology books, and those books did not speak about natives. The act of erecting stones is not a monopoly of the natives only (who from what I understand used the practice to mark a path). Among the ancient Europeans stones were venerated. In the origin the temples to the Gods were built around stones believed to have been touched by the divinity the temple was dedicated to. Among the Berbers of the Northern African continent, the practice is ancestral… I feel deeply sorrowful when people get hurt (and actually it happened only once that someone got hit on the leg!) for I had not built any of them to hurt people. But I do not feel responsible for it, the same way doesn’t feel responsible the architect who projected the sidewalks to be next to a streets where cars run. There is something called “good common sense”, that is a skill people must learn to live in the urbs. The path to civilization began 2000 years ago, and now 2000 years after people should have learned how to protect themselves in places that incidents can easily occur.

    7. Al says:

      What a shame!

    8. Ted says:

      Uh, this guy does hopefully know what the myth of Sisyphus is? He pushed a stone up a mountain all day only to have it roll down so that he had to do again the next day, forever.

      Besides that, his “work” is in a public park and no one asked him to create creepy cairns that remind one more of Stephen King’s Pet Semetary.

      I’m sorry he’s disappointed but someone obviously didn’t care much for his work in a park that belongs to everyone.

      • Uliks Gryka says:

        It was the Gods decision to have the rock slip from Sisyphus hands and roll down the hill, not the decision of a mortal. Maybe you forgot this detail… And a friendly suggestion: you should start reading some books on ancient history, religion, and culture of the Mediterranean ethnicities, and maybe you will understand what the stones really mean, instead of comparing them to modern tales.

    9. Joe says:

      Wow. To compare someone knocking over a piece of intentionally temporary art to the Taliban and ISIS is so far beyond the pale, it makes me want to go up there and knock over one of his piles. I’ve enjoyed seeing them, but I do not enjoy such an offensive and extreme reaction.

      • getoverit says:

        Offensive? When will people stop being so offended by mere WORDS? Actions are the truth not words and this guys actions are hardly offensive.

    10. Woody says:

      People really lower the bar for what they consider ‘incredible’ art. Nothing special or innovative about piling rocks like that.

    11. Ecobill says:

      Art is subjective and clearly not everyone commenting appreciates what Mr. Gryka did. But you can’t argue that he created something. Those that destroyed his creation in the dark of night created nothing but the destruction of someone’s effort. Gryka did something positive that he hoped would bring pleasure to some. The vandals did nothing but destroy at least one person’s dream. Shame on them.

    12. Tony says:

      I’ve seen these stacked stones. Some of them (perhaps all) should be avoided by parents of little ones. They are often placed in easily accessible public places that are an accident waiting to happen. Stack your stones with at least a modicum of safety in mind.
      Have you considered their “destruction” could have been with child safety in mind?
      Grandpa knows best!