Turning 10, Hydra School Projects is a real success story

In order to achieve longevity, an artistic institution operating in the field of contemporary art needs the right people – the kind whose main virtues include persistence and patience. The Hydra School Projects is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, thanks to the determination of Dimitris Antonitsis, who has dedicated a great deal of time and energy to enable this initiative to prosper. This summer, besides the established exhibition at the Sachtoureion high school, a number of works by 50 artists who have participated in a previous edition of the Hydra School Projects are scattered around different parts of the island. The works of art are everywhere: From the Kremmydi taverna to the Anemoni pastry shop (the latter is famed for its almond confectionery) and the stylish Bratsera Hotel to the local hospital and old people’s home – proof that the exhibition has ventured beyond the boundaries of its traditional display space and is being presented and embraced by the entire island. Given that these are works belonging to the contemporary art genre, this acceptance takes on an even more important dimension, acting as a kind of unofficial retrospective taking place all over Hydra. Following Matthew Barney’s impressive performance art event featuring a shark which took place a few days ago, actively inaugurating the Sfageio venue, visitors and locals alike now have plenty of opportunities to spot a work of art somewhere. Besides the works featured in the School Projects, there is also this year’s show at the Sachtoureion. The exhibition features works by seven artists, including Greeks Margarita Bofiliou and Costas Sachpazis. On the premises of the former sea captain’s house, which was subsequently transformed into a school before becoming a visual arts space, are videos, drawings, installations, paintings and photographs. It’s interesting to note that some of the artists whose works go on display in the framework of the Hydra School Projects do residencies on the island. Both an artist and a curator, this year Antonitsis focuses on portraiture, whether through the icon effigies executed by German artist Carsten Fock, for instance, or Bob Wilson’s superb creations – works by the American multifaceted artist are going on display for the first time in Greece. Wilson’s submissions are four videos featuring closeups of animals – in one of the videos, actress Salma Hayek turns into a swan. The work of Margarita Bofiliou is sensitive and poetic, the artist has come up with small sculptures made of seashells, not to mention a sculpture of a chimpanzee. Gerard Forster takes closeup pictures of people possessed by fear and agony. In his images, faces convulse through screams, the looks in his subjects’ eyes are penetrating and piercing and the facial expressions influence the viewer’s psychological mood. Of Danish descent, Sissel Kardell was adopted by an Afro-American family. In her works, showcased in the School Projects, she explores her Scandinavian roots via the medium of visual arts. In a rather playful mood, New York-based artist KAWS presents works featuring familiar Smurfs, while Costas Sachpazis works on installations.