Every summer since 2009, DESTE has invited an artist or group of artists to develop an exhibition in the Foundation’s Project Space, a former slaughterhouse on the island of Hydra. This year, DESTE’s Project Space will feature a site-specific exhibition by Kara Walker, conceived in a dialogic relationship with both the original elements of this unique exhibition space and with the landscape which surrounds it.
The project will transport Figa, the left hand of the sphinx-like monument of the A Subtlety installation made with polystyrene and sugar, from its “new world” location at the Domino Sugar Factory in New York to Greece, the birthplace of Western civilisation.
Configured into a fist with thumb thrust between the index and middle fingers (known as the “fig sign”), the Figa has multiple meanings across culture and history, from Ancient Greece and Rome into the modern era. While it is generally thought of as very rude sign, it also has magical properties as an emblem of fertility and protection against the evil eye.
In its new location, the sculpture’s transformation from art object to holy relic will be completed by further applying copious amounts of sugar to its surface in a collective act of “sweetening” the loss of home, country, ideology, or faith that is our global zeitgeist. Appealing to the condition of slaves, migrants, refugees, outcasts, and marginalized peoples Figa, like A Subtlety before her, draws on the pilgrim spirit in all of us that seeks spiritual and material fulfillment at the end of a catastrophic journey.
The exhibition is on view at the DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra between June 20 and September 30, 2017.