Judd Tully was Dakis Joannou’s guest in Athens and on the island of Hydra for the greek collector’s annual presentation of his Contemporary art collection in a different way each Summer:
This viewer was largely bowled over by the submarine-like depth of Joannou’s collection, seeing, for example, 12 major pieces by Robert Gober from 1978–2007, most likely the biggest slice of his work on view since the artist’s midcareer retrospective at the Schaulager in Basel in 2007. (If there were any lingering doubts about Gober’s stature after two of his pieces were bought in at the auctions in New York last month, they seem trivial now.)
As the parade of high-profile guests rambled by, including a fascinating trio of young women from Bahrain, whose couture outshone even the tattooed presence of Ashley Bickerton relaxing on a streamlined sofa near one of his paintings, the gravitas of Joannou’s annual event in Athens sunk in.
The annual Joannou tradition has longer legs this year than in past, thanks to the debut of Slaughterhouse, a new DESTE Foundation project space on Hydra, the fabled Greek island two hours by hydrofoil from Athens. ARTINFO took a trip out to Hydra for the space’s inauguration on Tuesday with the Bahrain women; a flock of artists including Sue Webster, Tim Noble, Bickerton, Cattelan, Fischer, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Wekua, and probably the ghost of Duchamp; and a coven of major art collectors and advisers, from Miami’s Don and Mera Rubell to New Yorker dealer Jeffrey Deitch, a longtime Joannou adviser.
The space is located in a former slaughterhouse where the island’s goats would meet their fate. Local legend has it that the blood of the animals coursed down a long funnel to the sea below, attracting sharks who slurped up the runoff. That history, plus the myths of Artemis and her golden bow, sunken ships, buried treasure, and local religious lore, gave Matthew Barney and Elizabeth Peyton, who kicked off the space with a first-time collaboration, plenty of raw material to work with.
“Blood of Two: Matthew Barney and Elizabeth Peyton” unfolded with a dawn procession attended by several hundred bleary-eyed pilgrims, including Thomas Struth, who photographed the unfolding Fellini/Bergman/Tarkovsky–like scene from a death-defying, rocky outcropping overlooking Mandraki Bay in the beautiful Aegean Sea. In the almost hallucinatory early light, a fishing boat outfitted with a hoist and black-suited divers brought up a sunken bronze vitrine/sculpture, which contained reliquary-like drawings made by Barney and Peyton.
Nobody Does It Better (ArtInfo)