Dikeou Collection ‘Goes Dark’ ‘til 2020. . .


March 29, 2019 was the last day Dikeou Collection was open to the public, marking the beginning of the collection’s very first exhibition rotation. All artwork on display in the Colorado Building will be de-installed over the next several months in preparation for the upcoming retrospective exhibition, Devon Dikeou: Mid-Career Smear, curated by Cortney Lane Stell. Mid-Career Smear will open February 2020, and will transform the curiously unusual space into an entirely new experience that will highlight Devon’s practice in a generous and progressive manner. Stell says, “I am thrilled to debut the reimagined spaces of the collection with an exhibition that looks at the expansive practice of artist and Colorado-native, Devon Dikeou. The exhibition will celebrate the diverse artistic achievements of Devon and pay homage to the unique space that she occupies in the region’s contemporary art history.“ Devon Dikeou: Mid-Career Smearwill be on view until 2021, at which time all original Dikeou Collection artwork, as well as new acquisitions, will return on view.


While the main exhibition spaces in The Colorado Building will be closed until the retrospective opening, Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax will remain open for select events and by appointment. On Thursday, April 4, we will celebrate the release of zingmagazine issue 25 at the pop-up (312 E Colfax Ave) with a public reception from 6-9pm. Complimentary food, refreshments, music, and of course copies of the new issue will be provided. Guitarist Jonny Barber, who is also an author and founder of The Colfax Museum, will perform originals and choice covers, with Americana, rock, rockabilly, country & blues all making an appearance. He will be accompanied by bassist Lance Bakemeyer to play us some retro as well as modern tunes. Jeremy ‘Sinistarr’ Howard is a Denver-based DJ hailing from Detroit who is known for his innovative and adventurous sets that deftly explore the soul of yesteryear with a modern context. As a producer, he has releases on legendary labels such as Metalheadz Platinum, Renegade Hardware, and Creative Source. All are welcome to attend this event and hang out with us one last time before we go quiet for a while…

zingmagazine is a New York-based contemporary art publication Edited/Published by artist Devon Dikeou since 1995. Issue #25 includes projects by Sarah Staton, Amy Gatrell, Rachel Cole Dalamangas, Allan McCollum, Shamus Clisset, Robert Smithson, Kerri Scharlin, Gaston Karquel/Geraldine Postel & Magnin, Polly Apfelbaum, Craig Dykers, Michael ross, Jennifer Grimsyer, Karin Bravin, Maria Antelman/Melanie Flood, Willard Boepple, Heidi Zuckerman, Christian Schumann, Elmgreen & Dragset/Maureen Sullivan, Bjarne Melgaard, Romana Drdova, Edgar Serrano/Benjamin Donaldson, Deborah Kass, Natalie Rivera, Brandon Johnson, Walter Robinson, poster by Mark Licari, mask by Romana Drdova, and koozie by Shamus Clisset.

Dikeou Superstars: Momoyo Torimitsu


Walking into the main space of the Dikeou Collection, the visitor is greeted by some striking (and somewhat unsettling) characters: two colossal, inflatable, hot-pink bunny rabbits. These rabbits are so massive, in fact, their heads squish against the ceiling, forcing their creepy cartoon eyes down onto the viewer in a fluoride stare. Their uncanny smiles and stretched latex skin make it hard to look away, leading us to question if it’s sympathy, suspicion, or a misunderstood sweetness at the heart of our intrigue. Momoyo Torimitsu, a Japanese artist and creator of the disturbingly saccharine Somehow, I don’t feel comfortable, has succeeded in her plot to disrupt reality through a palpable, yet hard to articulate, feeling of unease.


According to Torimitsu, the innocence implied by the image of a bunny coupled with their disconcerting size and situation is an exploration of cuteness and its limits. This exploration is not simply aesthetic; it is also socially critical. While created for a show in Paris in 2000, the oeuvre stands in conversation with the pervasive influence of kawaii (cute) imagery in Japan, specifically as it relates to consumerism and prescribed gender roles. On her website, Torimitsu writes that the target audience for cute character goods is not only children but also adult women, a fact which demonstrates the entanglement of consumer culture with a conception of gender identity that regulates Japanese women’s ‘ways of communication, negotiation, smiling, and sexuality.’ Though sensational, this piece has the capability to inspire profound meditation on the pressure to conform to societal boundaries that discourage personal expansion and deny full extension of self. Torimitsu argues, via hot-pink inflatable rabbits, for social reformation.



Plastic bunnies aren’t the only way Torimitsu accomplishes social critique. Just a room over from Somehow, I don’t feel comfortable, a man dressed in business attire is poised mid-crawl on the floor. Life-like enough to elicit an ‘oh shit!’ or two, Miyata-san, the primary component of the piece Miyata Jiro, is an automaton that has toured the world with Torimitsu. 6 TV screens on the wall next to the robot (another element of the piece) show the pair out in the streets of New York, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, London, Amsterdam, and Sydney. The TVs display Miyata-san inching jerkily down sidewalks around the world, while Torimitsu, dressed as a nurse, attends to him. Looks of confusion, worry, amusement, wonder, and, sometimes, anger follow them, as people struggle to make sense of Miyata Jiro and their own role in the performance.



Miyata-san crawls to represent his identity as a corporate soldier, debilitated by an obsession to succeed within a capitalist system. Though people (mainly those unsure about whether or not Miyata-san is an actual person) may be concerned for the robot’s well-being, the audience is ultimately powerless to help Miyata-san stand up, stop, or reach his non-existent (and thus, unachievable) destination. In light of this dynamic, this piece can also be read as a meta-commentary on the function of the artist - they may facilitate in the illumination of societal issues but are similarly powerless as an individuals to change the way things are.


Somehow, I don’t feel comfortable and Miyata Jiro shock us into contemplation of darker themes Torimitsu has strategically buried beneath spectacular exteriors. Who knew inflatable bunnies could become a symbol for societal restriction and regulation of identity? Or that an animated android businessman could serve as a metaphor for the futility of modern existence? Bleak and familiar as these messages may be, we can appreciate Torimitsu’s work for its ability to galvanize visceral and psychological reactions that play with our conceptions of the abstract and tangible. Torimitsu’s bunnies and robots hoodwink our imaginations, giving form to greater truths and critical reverie through disturbance and enchantment.


- Mimi King

Recap: Beyond Heaven Book Talk

All photos by Hannah Cole


In the early 1980s a new style of music started to emerge in the underground of Chicago. Similar to disco but with more repetitive beats and synthesized baselines, this sound came to be known as house music and became the driving force in the city’s dance community. Thanks to support from local DJs on the radio and at parties, house music rose to international prominence and remains a fixture in the club and electronic scene today. The parties that highlighted house music were promoted with flyers that noted the date and location of the event and the DJs slated to play this new sound, and were distributed at schools, record shops, on the street, and other locations frequented by those “in the know.” Flyers were commonly lost or tossed away once the party was over, so any collection of them from this time is rare. This summer Almighty & Insane Books published over 70 flyers from this era from the collection of Mario “Liv It Up” Luna in a book titled Beyond Heaven: Chicago House Party Flyers from 1983-1989. The Dikeou Collection invited Almighty & Insane Books Founder Brandon Johnson, DJ Brett Starr, and DJ/Producer/Designer Steve Berumen to Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax for a discussion on house music, its origins in Chicago as documented in the book, as well as Denver’s own dance music culture.


Occupying what was once Jerry’s Record Exchange, the Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax was a fitting venue for this event because of its ties to Denver’s music scene. Thousands of records line the walls, and, if given the time to look, you can find some classic house gems and many records containing highly sampled tracks. Mario Luna is a house DJ, so before the conversation we had one of his mixes playing on the hi-fi as people started to arrive – it set the tone perfectly. Brandon opened the conversation by scrolling through a handful of flyers and providing an overview of some of the originators of house music like Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy and how they pushed the sound at parties and on the radio, WBMX being the main station to do this. In addition to DJing, Mario was part of a party crew called UPC and helped organize and promote house events, underscoring how people often took on multiple rolls to help this movement grow.


Brandon Johnson, Steve Berumen, and Brett Starr


This kind of full ingratiation in the scene is still very much in practice today, and conversation participants Steve Berumen (a.k.a. Steve Synfull) and Brett Starr are perfect examples of this. Berumen first started DJing in 1997, is the founder of a monthly underground house night in Denver called HOUSE GUEST, and he is also Director of Design & Branding at SoCo Nightlife District. Starr has been a DJ for 20 years and plays music from across the spectrum of house music and has performed with legendary DJs, held multiple club residencies in several states, and has released original productions on a number of house labels. Both of them embody the dedication that has made house the touchstone for dance music today.


Brett Starr DJing after the conversation


The phrase “house is a feeling” came up multiple times during the talk, which is from the lyrics to a 1987 track called “My House” by Rhythm Control. This “feeling” represents acceptance and freedom to those who are often marginalized in society. The groundwork for the house scene was laid by the black, Latino, and gay communities in Chicago in a time when America was chanting “Disco Sucks!” and dance music and its cultural proponents were pushed back underground. But that dedication to the music never faded and today house (and many other genres of dance music) is more popular than ever. And while they are mainly disseminated digitally now, the flyer remains as the first point of contact from the promoter to the audience, and that flyer needs to be enticing enough to make someone want to buy a ticket and attend a show. Brandon said that title of the book, Beyond Heaven, represents what the flyer promises when you attend house event. It is the entry point to a night of musical bliss, “and when you feel it you will understand.”


Copies of Beyond Heaven: Chicago House Party Flyers from 1983-1989 can be purchased here


- Hayley Richardson

Dikeou Superstars: Chad Dawkins


Originality is difficult to define in a time when we are inundated with content that is quickly edited, rehashed, and spit back into the information cycle machines. Artists searching for inspiration can easily slip into a habit of unconscious mimicry, resulting in work lacking in authenticity. Instead of trying to “force” originality, Chad Dawkins critiques the concept through reproduction. His work Untitled, #149-168 at Dikeou Collection is a series of 20 graphite drawings on canvas that copy engravings of microscopic plant cell images from the 19thcentury. He describes the works as “handmade reproductions of mechanical reproductions of handmade reproductions of something viewed scientifically…” and through this ongoing process of reproduction, he concludes that “inevitably they are different” from their original counterparts.



Formally speaking, the work is subtle and minimal yet painstakingly detailed and spatial in its presentation. These discernable paradoxes underscore the circuitous meaning of the work where the question and the answer are one in the same. In his artist statement, Dawkins notes that he received the prints he copied from as a gift, and, in a somewhat symbolic vein of the work, he gifted the drawings to Devon Dikeou. They were originally exhibited at the Dikeou Pop-Up Space on Bannock Street from 2011 until 2013, and are currently on view at the main Dikeou Collection gallery on California Street in the same room as Nils Folke Anderson’s Untitled (California)styrofoam sculpture. This is a wonderful pairing because they both play with this idea of paradoxes. Themes of control vs spontaneity, consistency vs variety, and the idea that the finished piece(s) leave traces or ARE traces of what’s been play into both these artworks.


“MAMAS DON’T LET YOUR BABIES GROW UP TO BE COWBOYS”
2009 ongoing
Wall: 2 Chad Dawkins Drawing that the Artist Curated into Her 11.1 Artpace Residency
The Drawings’ Language and Font Replicates the Message Found when Searching for Simmons’s Recordings on the Internet
Detail: Left, “It’s the Talk of the Town”; Right, “Round Midnight”


Dawkins’ reproduction drawings can also be seen in Dikeou’s installation Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys, a work which looks at great jazz musicians and whose names have been embossed into music history and those who have been glossed over, the focal figure being saxophonist Sonny Simmons. As a contribution to the installation, Dawkins created two drawings that copy an internet error message stating that Sonny Simmons’ music cannot be found at the requested server – a testament to the musician’s underrecognized place in the jazz pantheon.


Dawkins’ 2010 exhibition self-titled at Sala Diaz in San Antonio featured a reproduction of a photograph of painting, as well as a reproduction of the painting in the photograph. Dawkins stated, “Primarily, the exhibition assumes a conceptual role of a postmodern critique of the modernist tenets of object making, the cult of originality, and the sanctity of artist’s objects. Ultimately, these critiques, (at this point) being rooted in unoriginality, serve the purpose of testing their own validity.” The two phrases that stand out are “cult of originality” and “testing their own validity,” each coming off with a bit of a satirical eye-roll and a fair challenge in both the creation and critical response of art making. In the case of Untitled, #149-168, the viewer is never told that the drawings are reproductions, leaving them to assume that they are in fact original images. However, many are able to discern that they are depictions of something on a cellular level, and the originality of both the primary source and its replication are never questioned or argued.


-Hayley Richardson

Recap: Gang Gang Dance at Underground Music Showcase

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Photo: Ari Marcopoulos


As an accomplished artist and musician, Lizzi Bougatsos permeates multiple creative circles. Several of her artworks, like Good Hair (2010), In God We Bust (2012), and Pussy for Rent (2010) have been on view at Dikeou Pop-Up: Colfax since 2014, at which time she came to Denver for the official opening and DJ’d and a sang a few notes for the event. This little performance was just a glimpse into her talents as a musician, and we got the full experience last Saturday when her band Gang Gang Dance played at Denver’s Underground Music Showcase. The group is hot off the release of a new album, Kazuashita, and their show in Denver was one of the first to kick off a tour that will cover the Eastern U.S. before heading to Japan in October.

We linked with Lizzi (vocals, percussion), Brian DeGraw (keys/synth), Doug Shaw (bass), Josh Diamond (guitar), and Ryan Sawyer (drums), as well as their manager Rich and Moses Archuleta of Deerhunter for dinner at Domo Japanese Kitchen on Friday. They had just arrived in Denver and needed the kind of sustenance only donburi and sake could provide. Lizzi asked if I happen to know any newborns and what their names are, as they have a song where she gives shout-outs to “all the babies of the world.” Dinner later led to drinks at Pon Pon Bar where Brian played a DJ set featuring an eclectic mix of reggae, dub, 80s synth, and other slinky jams. They managed to slip out before witching hour, as they had an 8am load-in and sound check the next morning – plus leftover saba nuggets to consume.


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The Underground Music Showcase is a multi-venue event that spans about 6 blocks on South Broadway. Gang Gang Dance performed at the Imagination Stage located in the back lot of an auto mechanic shop. Their music sounds just as otherworldly and ethereal live as it does on their albums, with a fluid yet lively stage energy to match. At one point, Lizzi declared the next song was dedicated to the future and all the little ones out there who will one day be that future (hence the baby name question earlier). The 40-minute set was a teaser to what the band could pull off within in a full-on concert, and certainly got the crowd eager to get more Gang Gang action the next chance they can.


Thinking about Lizzi’s work as both a visual and musical artist, there are some interesting parallel’s and differences in her output. In both she is collaborative, experimental, eclectic, and versatile. Though her art possesses sensuality, there is a sense of abruptness that is absent in the softer textures of her musical output. The visual art by DeGraw, comprised mainly of mixed-media works on paper that blend the abstract with the figurative, reflects the balance between improvisation and finely tuned technical skills prevalent in his instrumentations. It is crazy to think that the term “interdisciplinary” is still sometimes looked down upon in the creative world, due to this unsubstantiated notion that the artist is not dedicated enough to a specific outlet and deemed unfocused. If one were to look at the bigger picture instead of categorizing each element of an artist’s work, then the dedication, thoughtfulness, and complexity of their craft(s) can be understood as something greater than the sum of its parts.


- Hayley Richardson

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