By Janelle Zara
How do you transport a beloved 661-pound sculpture up a mountain? Very carefully.
Three years after Kara Walker unveiled her monumental public sculpture “A Subtlety,” the sugar sphinx’s last remaining vestige resurfaced last week in a former slaughterhouse on the tiny Greek island of Hydra. But getting it there was no easy feat.
Walker destroyed most of the sphinx, which debuted at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn in 2014, after the show ended. But the sculpture’s left hand—grasping its own thumb in a gesture that simultaneously expresses vulgarity, fertility, and luck—survived. It is on view in the exhibition “Figa” at the collector Dakis Joannou’s DESTE Foundation’s Project Space Slaughterhouse through September 30.
The work traveled via jumbo cargo jet from its storage facility in Long Island City to Liege, then via truck to Greece, and then on a ferry to Hydra, an island known to rely almost solely on donkeys for overland transportation.
“We had to be sure it would make it through the streets!” says DESTE’s installation manager and conservator Eugenia Stamatopoulou, who meticulously took all the requisite measurements.
Photo courtesy of the DESTE Foundation.