179 CANAL presents “It’s Déjà vu All Over Again”, an exhibition by Devon Dikeou. The title/quote (a Yogi-ism) originates from Berra witnessing Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris hitting back-to-back home runs in an early 1960’s Yankee’s game. Sports aphorisms aside, the exhibition revisits Dikeou’s multifaceted works as artist, curator, publisher and collector, 1991 though the present.
Never one to settle for stagnation, Dikeou has continuously sought to engage her audience with works that invite viewer participation while questioning the nature of observation from the inside-out and outside-in. In “Takes a Licking, and Keeps on Ticking”, viewers are invited to clock in and out of their tour of the exhibition. Sparking some self-consciousness, viewing time is quantified, recorded and presented publicly. The piece engenders nostalgia and gives the audience a chance to experience rarified social practices, as Dikeou’s work is unmistakably tied to America of yesteryear. In her series “Displaced Denver”, warm color photos capture Denver at street level. We recognize the buildings in their familiar post-war mid-century facades. If that was the future then, the artificial flora and fauna and mirrored planter box that makes up “Cajole” (Oriental Opulence and Tropical Paradise), are relics from their past. This floral arrangement looks as if it was plucked straight from one these building lobbies, with official signage generously elucidating the botanical nomenclature, though are we convinced yet? “So we Must Keep Apart, You There, I Here, with Just the Door Ajar, That Oceans are, and Prayer, and That Pale Sustenance, Despair”, a functioning summer screen door, divides the exhibition space and on the other side, “What’s Love Got to Do with it: ” zingmagazine 1-21” is installed. Before the first issue of zingmagazine was published in 1995, Devon Dikeou was already addressing cross-pollination, in this ongoing installation in which a selection of the iconic directory boards listing every artist in every artist in every group show she has been in since 1991. This related series appropriately hung within the zingmagazine reading room, lists all the participants that have been published in zingmagazine. Viewers are encouraged to get cozy and reacquaint themselves with past issues. Dikeou’s most recent work “Buddha or Machiavelli”, is a color photo taken of the plaque installed at Mezzogiorno Restaurant reserving a table for the pre-eminent art dealer Ileana Sonnabend. We once again encounter the reverential and paradoxical position of an insider looking in and putting out.
All in all, this is the final show of a really great year here at 179 CANAL and it feels like bases are loaded. Let’s see how far we can hit this one out of the park. We will be closed for summer vacation. Thanks for everything and see you soon.
M.L., NYC, 2010