Devon Dikeou, Insider, Aims to Redemocratize Jazz History from adobeairstream.com
Devon Dikeou began her art career in the basement of Tibor de Nagy Gallery. She was sent down, as John Post Lee’s intern, to organize old issues of Artforummagazine. Flipping through one, she was struck by a six-page spread of the work of Lucas Samaras. The first spread featured a full-color painting of a skeleton with the word “Artist,” the second a black -and- white image of the skull with the word “Dealer,” and the third zoomed in on the skull’s teeth, with the word “Collector.” At least that’s how she recalls it. Years later she found a copy of the same issue and realized that it was not “Artist”, but “Critic” that was the word on Samaras’s work.
Since then, Dikeou’s art and life, have concentrated on exploring the complicated and complicit roles between artists, dealers, critics, collectors, viewers and the spaces they occupy. Dikeou may be an insider – she’s the editor/publisher of Zing Magazine, an artist, an independent curator, critic and collector – but she’s one insider who has made that status a subject of her ongoing interrogation of that system.
At Artpace in San Antonio, guest curator Heather Pesanti features Dikeou in IAIR 11.1. Dikeou titled her exhibition “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” – after the Willie Nelson song – because she construes the “hard, American lifestyle of the legendary cowboy” as an apt metaphor for artists, or for jazz musicians – who are her subject here.
Dikeou’s installation features 56 color photographs of brass nameplates of jazz musicians that she took at a boutique hotel in Argentina, dedicated to telling a “history” of jazz. Mounted on wood panels, each 8”x10” photograph becomes part of a haphazardly hung row. The omissions struck her just as hard as who was included. To that end her exhibit includes a 17 by 12 foot photo-mural featuring the name Sonny Simmons.
Who is Simmons? And why is his name so much larger than the others? Precisely the point, indicates Dikeou.
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