Malls for America: Devon Dikeou at 179 Canal
PHOTOS BY TIM VOYTEK
For the last year, Margaret Lee has run exhibitions, performances, readings, dances, and parties out of a second-floor walk-up at 179 Canal Street. Lee has run some 17 exhibitions in just over a year, with boundless energy and little regard for the architectural limitations of her space—a long chamber on a block full of tourists primarily interested in knock-off sports watches, with limited natural lighting. A recent two-person installation by artists Josh Kline and Anicka Yi filled the exhibition space with paper and plaster-of-Paris effigies of natural ecosystems and an office. Both were pointed criticisms of forms of naturalized inhabitance.
It’s Deja Vu All Over Again, the present exhibition by artist and publisher Devon Dikeou, brought out the affirmative aspects of the building’s architecture. Viewers could finally notice the uneven but also gestural painting of the walls, the marble-life linoleum on the floor, the ornate lighting fixtures, and the coffered ceilings. Dikeou built a screen door that simultaneously bisects and expands the space; on one side, she’s installed fake plants from mall architecture. Dikeou’s from Denver, where her family is in real estate development: “You have to make them not too small, so they don’t feel depressing or stunted, and not too large, so they don’t block the sun,” she explains. The description sounds like a satire of the limits on an artist’s ambitions. The artificial plants are paired with a series of Dikeou’s photographs, mounted on aluminum and hung salon-style, featuring buildings in Denver whose marquees announce exotic sounding European travel destinations for names, but make no other efforts to affect authenticity.
Across the screen door, Dikeou, who is the editor and publisher of zingmagazine (now in its 21st installment), has installed archive copies with corresponding tack-board editions. On each black directory board she lists an issue’s masthead, creating a souvenir and a memento to the issue, and to the niceties involved in collaboration and cohabitation.
DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN IS ON VIEW THROUGH MAY 28. 179 CANAL STREET IS LOCATED AT 179 CANAL STREET, 2ND FLOOR, NEW YORK.