Take one dead shark. Add a submerged coffin. Throw in a Jeff Koons-designed yacht. What do you have? A Matthew Barney extravaganza on the Greek Isle of Hydra, a renowned, car-free artsy fartsy hideout where everyone who is anyone goes everywhere by foot or burro. Hosted by collector/industrialist/Koons yacht owner Dakis Joannou, the performance/party/shark roast combined various events into one hyperreal Mediterranean spectacle.
The first installation was in a former slaughterhouse on Hydra’s Mandraki Bay, where Barney and painter-of-the-minute Elizabeth Peyton collaborated on a little event called Blood of Two, sponsored by the Athens-based Deste Foundation Center for Contemporary Art. Sadly, it did not involve fileting Björk. But it did involve getting up at dawn to watch a bunch of local workers dredge up a glass coffin from the Aegean that contained a Peyton-painted portrait of Barney. (So meta!) After the ceremonial lifting, said coffin/vitrine — very Jules Verne — was carried along a rocky path to the slaughterhouse, where the artsy jet set could admire its contents. Naturally, the Barney/Peyton team filmed the whole parade, which mimics a local Easter event in which an icon is carried into the sea and out again. (So culturally relevant!)
Accompanying the procession? One shark, dead, to be sacrificed to the ravenous culture vultures at an evening reception. This consisted of about 500 attendees sitting at the longest table we’ve ever seen (seriously, you couldn’t see the ends from the middle) all of whom diligently gnawed on the charred member of the phylum Chordata in the name of art. Naturally, it tasted like chicken. OK, not really. We didn’t eat the shark. There wasn’t enough to go around. But I’m sure it was delicious. Especially with a little tsatsiki on the side.
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