Every year, an exclusive selection of the art world's wealthiest, best connected, and most attractive make the pilgrimage to Hydra, a bucolic island where megacollector Dakis Joannou invites artists to stage elaborate performances for his 300 closest acquaintances. This year, however, Hydra will see no such event: Joannou and his art foundation, DESTE, which sponsors the weekend, decided to call it off after realizing the dates coincided with the Greek elections on June 17.
The party-filled weekend usually begins in Athens with the opening of a new exhibition at DESTE. This year's planned exhibition, of American artists Urs Fischer and Josh Smith, will now be postponed for the summer of 2013. "If we'd just postponed for a week, we would have lost everybody," Joannou told ARTINFO when reached by phone. "They all have their own summer plans." In the place of the more elaborate Fischer and Smith show, DESTE is staging a smaller drawing exhibition in its project space titled "Animal Spirits." The show, comprised of works from Joannou’s collection, include pieces by Paul Chan, Kelley Walker, and Sam Durant, among others.
Some involved or invited to the event said the current catastrophic economic situation in Greece also contributed the decision to cancel the flashy Hydra weekend. Indeed, it's not hard to imagine some of the more extravagant occurrences staged by Joannou coming across as distasteful in today's climate: Previous hijinks at Hydra include Matthew Barney serving a dinner of shark meat; fisherman retrieving a vitrine containing an Elizabeth Peyton drawing from a dark cove; and Doug Aitken screening a film starring Chloe Sevigny on a barge floating in the Aegean sea.
But Joannou maintains it was simply bad timing, not bad taste, that caused the delay. "It's an opening of an art show," he said. "I don't think it would have been inappropriate if it weren't on the same day as the elections."