This week Barneys New York flagship store’s windows were transformed into dymamic vitrines for a public art exhibition organized in collaboration with DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, based in Athens, Greece. Conceived by DESTE’s founder, the internationally admired collector and patron Dakis Joannou, and Barneys Creative Director Dennis Freedman, this exhibition will present five ambitious site- specific installation projects by prominent artists in different disciplines. Each of the artists has participated since 2007 in destefashioncollection-- a DESTE Foundation special initiative devoted to investigating, interpreting and celebrating the complex relationships between art, fashion, and the culture at large.
On view through July 4th, the project at Barneys New York will be the first U.S. presentation of destefashioncollection. The five participating artists are M/M (Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak) Paris; photographer Juergen Teller; artist Helmut Lang; poet Patrizia Cavalli; and filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari. "We are excited and honored that DESTE Foundation has chosen Barneys as the venue for the first American presentation of destefashioncollection," said Dennis Freedman. "From the moment I first saw Dakis Joannou's extraordinary art collection and explored the programs of his Foundation, I dreamed that we might work together someday.
Now with this collaboration, that dream has come true." The destefashioncollection was conceived by DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art as a novel approach to evaluating the deeper cultural significance of fashion. Since 2007, the Foundation has commissioned an artist each year to select five articles of clothing or accessories that he or she considers representative of that year. DESTE then acquires these pieces - items have ranged from the practical to the conceptual, from an Azzedine Alaïa belt worn by First Lady Michelle Obama to a silk dress from the personal wardrobe of renowned late artist Louise Bourgeois - for addition to its permanent collection. Inspired by their selections, the artists subsequently create a new original work for destefashioncollection, drawing parallels between the five objects they have curated and the ideas those objects ignite.
For the exhibition at Barneys, these same artist/curators will adapt their original works to create compelling new public installations.
In celebration of the DESTE-Barneys collaboration, artist John Bock will present an original performance piece to be revealed at a private event at Barneys’ New York City flagship location. Participating artists:
Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak M/M (Paris) is an art design partnership consisting of Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak established in Paris in 1992. Best known for their creative direction and collaborations with musicians, fashion designers, contemporary artists, and magazines, M/M has extended their practice through art exhibitions and a number of group shows in Paris and New York.
Artist and fashion photographer, Juergen Teller, studied at the Bayerische Staatslehranstalt fur Photographie in Munich, Germany before moving to London in 1986. His work in influential international publications such as W Magazine, I-D and Purple nurtured his own photographic sensibility, which is marked by his refusal to separate the commercial fashion pictures and his most autobiographical un-commissioned work.
Helmut Lang is an Austrian artist who lives and works in New York and is known to be one of the most influential fashion designers of our time. By introducing unconventional materials into the urban uniform and by repositioning the perspectives of utility and modernity, Lang redefined the silhouette of the 1990s and early 2000s. Retiring from fashion in 2005, Lang’s work left an undeniable imprint on contemporary culture and on the fashion community. Lang continues to work as an artist exploring abstract sculptural forms and physical arrangements/space that take one beyond the limitations of the human body.
Patrizia Cavalli was born in Todi, Umbria, and published her first collection of poems, My Poems Won’t Change the World, in 1974. In Italy her readings attract high and enthusiastic attendance, and Poesie (Poems)1974-1992, including the previous two titles along with a collections of new poems is into its sixteenth reprint. Cavalli has written radio plays, an essay on Frida Kahlo (Sotto non c’é niente), was made Chevalière de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2003, has won many of Italy’s most prestigious literary prizes, including the Viareggio and the Pasolini, and has lived in Rome since 1968. My Poems Won't Change the World, a bilingual edition of her poems, will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2013.
Athina Rachel Tsangari works as a filmmaker and projection designer in her native Greece and the US. Her graduation thesis from the University of Texas at Austin, "The Slow Business of Going", a low-fi sci-fi road movie, travelled the world to critical acclaim, and was acquired by MoMA for its permanent film collection. She designed the projections for the 2004 Olympics Opening Ceremony, and the opening of the new Acropolis Museum (2009). She co-founded and was artistic director of the Cinematexas International Short Film Festival in Austin, Texas (1996- 2007). She is Haos Film’s co-founder and principle producer. Among her credits as producer are three films directed by Yorgos Lanthimos: "Kinetta" (2005), "Dogtooth" as an associate producer (2009), and his latest film "Alps" (2011). Her second feature "Attenberg" premièred in competition at the 2010 Venice Film Festival, where it won the Coppa Volpi Award for its lead, Ariane Labed, and went on to win 13 more awards. It was Greece’s Best Foreign Language Film submission to the 2011 Academy Awards.
John Bock was born in 1965 in Gribbom, Germany, he lives and works in Berlin. He is a multi-media artist primarily known for his performances, which incorporate set design, music and video. His work has been presented in numerous international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (1999 and 2005) and Documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany (2002).
The DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art is a non-profit institution based in Athens, Greece. The Foundation was established in Geneva in 1983 by collector Dakis Joannou. Ever since, DESTE has been organizing exhibitions and has been supporting projects and publications internationally. Through an exhibition program that promotes emerging as well as established artists, the DESTE Foundation aims to broaden the audience for contemporary art, to enhance opportunities for young artists and to explore the connections between contemporary art and culture. The flexibility of DESTE’s exhibition schedule enables the Foundation to respond to what is current in the art world and to embark on interesting projects on short notice. DESTE’s program also extends to curatorial projects and special events that explore the connections between art and fashion, music, film, architecture, design, and contemporary culture.
Photography by Tom Sibley, courtesy DESTE Foundation and Barneys New York