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Following the postponement of a special project by Jeff Koons commissioned for the DESTE Foundation’s Project Space at the old Slaughterhouse in Hydra, Greece, due to COVID-19, a group of artists and friends of Dakis Joannou and the Foundation have come together to swiftly organize a small group show. This presentation doubles as a portrait of the collector and serves as a miniature survey of his collection.

Coordinated by Massimiliano Gioni, The Greek Gift brings together a series of new and existing works, alongside found objects and impromptu responses from a variety of artists who have maintained decades-long relationships with Dakis Joannou and the DESTE Foundation.

Part-divertissement and part-collaborative project, this small exhibition borrows its title from a chess tactic—the “Greek gift sacrifice.” This move, for which a player sacrifices a bishop in order to checkmate, in turn is believed to have been named after the mythical gift of the Trojan Horse from the Achaeans to the city of Troy. As any gift, it is a complex tangle of generosity and self-interest.

As in a chess game, several artists have been invited to “make a move” by selecting artworks and objects from the collection; in response, Joannou and Gioni countered by choosing other pieces. Functioning much like a surrealist “exquisite corpse,” the exhibition sets in motion a series of chain reactions between artworks—a domino effect of intense proximities.

Installed in the small, cavernous spaces of Hydra’s Slaughterhouse, the works sit side by side, like toys in a doll house. On its door is inscribed Marcel Duchamp’s maxim: “A Guest + A Host = A Ghost.”

Includes the works of: Pawel Althamer, Anonymous, Ashley Bickerton, Louise Bourgeois, Kerstin Brätsch, Maurizio Cattelan, George Condo, William Copley, Roberto Cuoghi, Nathalie Djurberg, Marcel Duchamp, Urs Fischer, Robert Gober, Jenny Holzer, Dakis Joannou, Paul McCarthy & Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Chris Ofili, Matthew Barney & Elizabeth Peyton, Seth Price, Charles Ray, David Shrigley, Kiki Smith, Josh Smith, Christiana Soulou, Kaari Upson, Andra Ursuta, Meyer Vaisman, Nari Ward, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Christopher Wool, Chen Zhen, Jakub Julian Ziolkowski

Coordinated by Massimiliano Gioni

DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art

DESTE Foundation Project Space

Slaughterhouse, Hydra


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