The DESTE Foundation, Project Space, Hydra, Greece, 2012
Photograph by Katy Hamer
The DESTE Foundation, Project Space, Animal Spirits, Small Side Gallery view
Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2012
The DESTE Foundation, Project Space, Animal Spirits
Folkert de Jong, Sculptural installation
Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2012


The Deste Foundation Project Space was founded in 2009 on the small, yet chic Greek island Hydra. Currently on view in the former slaughter house is a group exhibition from Dakis Joannou permanent collection. The exhibition presents a selection of works from contemporary artists ranging from digital drawings by Paul Chan to a zombie head from Folkert de Jong. Animal Spirits, at once leads the viewer into the “Slaughter house” expecting to find remnants of all the animals that had been killed years earlier. It is said that while still active, there was a steady mixture of blood and water spilling out into the nearby sea by way of a pipe that still extends from the small structure. Instead Animal Spirits is a rather political show focusing on a selection of works including, but not limited to, Tom Sachs reproduction of the Presidential symbol, Paul Chan’s graphite drawing of Saadam Hussein (also part of an illustrated iBook and exhibition called “How to download a Boyfriend), and a series of Adam Helms silk screened militia soldiers, whose images are pilfered from the vast supply of deceased representations of soldiers and terrorists online. Maybe in this case the “Animal” is the one that lives inside us all; the being that can reveal itself as quiet as a mouse, as kind as a friendly dog, or as cunning as a venomous snake. The exhibition was put together in replacement of another that was to feature Urs Fischer and Josh Smith which was postponed until 2013. However, Animal Spirits comes at a time in Greece when stray dogs are still being fed yet running wild and unlike the rest of the year, as I’ve been told, the political actions/reactions and/or animal spirits, specifically in Athens, have been kept at bay….since “even protestors need to rest during the summer”.

Animal Spirits is on view at the Deste Project Space until September 2012.The group exhibition includes works by: Huma Bhabha, Paul Chan, Folkert de Jong, Sam Durant, Adam Helms, Christian Holstad, Cameron Jamie, Kim Jones, Panos Koutrouboussis, Dominique McGill, Tom Sachs, William Scott, Dash Snow, and Kelley Walker.

The DESTE Foundation Project Space, Animal Spirits
Adam Helms, Installation view
Photograph by Katy Hamer, 2012


Pawel Althamer, Massimiliano, 2012, Plastic on metal wire construction
polyurethane foam, acrylic resin. Installation view DESTE Foundation, Athens
Photograph by Katy Hamer
Pawel Althamer, Dakis, 2011
Plastic on metal wire construction
Installation view DESTE Foundation, Athens
Photograph by Katy Hamer

The exhibition at the DESTE Foundation Athens is quite different from the show in Hydra.  On the second floor is work by Pawel Althamer (b. 1967). The first gallery presents a several sculptures from the series titled Almech, making direct reference to famous art world personalities, including Dakis Joannou himself. The second and third galleries on this floor offer a more broad look at the career of the artist and his performative gestures that usually result in free-standing sculptures. Also hanging in the third room are metallic paintings by young, American artist Jacob Kassay made using photo chemicals on canvas. It was in the first gallery, where my attention was held the longest and I felt a giddy sickness, later learning it was the fault of Urs Fischer’s Death of a Moment, 2007, permanently installed paneled mirrors that subtly move with the power of hydraulics and give the space a the feeling of being on a slow moving ship. For Althamer’s Almech, originally commissioned by the Deutsche Guggenheim for an exhibition in 2011 and continued into 2012, the artist made molds of his subject’s face, then constructed what could be thought of as a bizarre body forms, somewhat robotic in gesture, frozen in whiteness. Recognizing New Museum curator Massimiliano Gioni, along with artists Jeff Koons, Urs Fischer, Maurizio Cattelan and others assisted in making each piece oddly humorous. Althamer’s work tends to focus mostly on the male gender, but it would have been nice to see Marina Abramovic or Marilyn Minter hanging out with what feels like a “boys club” taken at face (ahem) value. Regardless, the way that the artist has focused on and formed each sculpture is humorous. The artists are identified by first name only via the title of the each sculptural work and hint towards a monumentalizing of the subjects but also rather than lending to a heavy sense of substantial grounding, the works seem somewhat delicate as if they could easily be  knocked down.  In fact, the sculpture of Massimiliano Gioni, one of the most interesting and powerful curators-also curating the 2013 Venice Biennale, is shown as a “Christ-like” figure on a fallen cross. However, rather than poking fun at his subjects, Althamer allows each figure the opportunity to have an outer body experience, becoming a ribbon, floating and sometimes falling. Dakis Joannou, portrayed as an American indian chief, seems to survey the scene and as a admirable chief should, bows his head in humble approval, appearing to say “Όλα είναι καλά”.

Pawel Althamer, Jeff, 2012, Plastic on metal wire construction,
polyurethane foam, acrylic resin, Installation view DESTE Foundation, Athens
Photograph by Katy Hamer

Pawel Althamer with Urs Fischer, Jacob Kassay & Jacub Julian Ziolkowski is on view at the DESTE Foundation Athens, from June 20th – October 31st, 2012

Also at this location is:
Collecting Architecture – Territories: The Athens Minutes in collaboration with Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation

More soon!