Artpace: You founded The Dikeou Collection in Denver with your brother Pany Dikeou. Can you describe the overall vision for your collection?
Dikeou: The Dikeou Collection came out of my artistic practice that has involved the varying different degrees that art is viewed—from the perspective of the viewer, the artist, the critic, and the collector. As an artist, I became aware of these perspectives during an internship at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in NYC. There, while organizing their old Artforums, I came across this project by Lucas Samaras that featured three double-page spreads of neo-abstract expressionist paintings of skeletons. The first DPS showed the full skeleton and underneath it the word “Artist”; the second DPS revealed the image of the skeleton zoomed in, and only showed the skull of the skeleton with the word “Dealer” underneath; and third DPS magnified the skull even further, so that it just showed the teeth of the skeleton. This time the word below was “Collector.” I was beginning my life as an artist then, and the Samaras project in Artforum revealed the various roles and what their roles exemplified. This dawned on me as an important and telling moment.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to revisit the project, and I realized my memory changed the written experience of the project: “Artist” was not originally part of the triumvirate—“Critic” was. And since, then my work has considered all these contexts: artist, audience, critic, context (dealer, collector, magazine, gallery, museum, street). These various positions in the art world, these roles their interactions and distances, their interconnectivity and singular divisions, have been the driving force of my artistic practice, including artwork and installations and founding/editing/publishing zingmagazine with its multitude of contributors, as well as collaborating to create a contemporary art collection with a sibling.
So The Dikeou Collection came from this unique perspective of my being an artist and editor/publisher of zingmagazine and from these perspectives. The Dikeou Collection collects artists in full, completely, and to represent their vision to fullest possible extent. To paraphrase Walter Robinson, a great artist and the former editor of artnet, “The Dikeou Collection is zingmagazine come to life.” And I suppose that’s true.
Artpace: For the installation at Artpace, you chose to highlight spaces not typically visited by the public. How was this decision inspired by your time as an International Artist-in-Residence in 2011?
Dikeou: Artpace emailed that I was among the finalists being considered as part of the Texas residency, and that visiting curator Heather Pesanti from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery would be coming for a studio visit. At that time, I was a fairly new resident to Texas, and I was trying to reconcile just how I would make the “studio visit” work here in my new Texas terrain, and also struggling because my work is very resistant to a traditional studio visit. A studio visit intrinsically implies a glimpse behind “Oz’s Curtain” so to speak, and my work often plays with what that “Curtain” might actually be. With that in mind, I blurred the “Curtain,” making the studio not one hidden room, but many rooms, any room. I organized the studio visit around the concept of the house and each room, starting with the garage and laundry room and going through the kitchen, dinning room, bedroom, bathroom, den, and living room, conducting the studio visit like a house tour, showing different works/installations in each chamber. This change in how to conduct a studio visit was a significant change for me as an artist and in my practice, and it came about as part of applying for a residency at Artpace.
Of course, who knew that beyond having the great fortune to be an Artist-in-Residence, I would be able to further curate a show in Artpace’s Hudson (Show)Room. As it’s the case, I culled from my experiences and time as a resident—and one of the most influential moments as a resident is the preliminary visit, an essential part of the Artpace orientation. One of the first things that happens in the preliminary visit is a tour of the entire campus of Artpace. It is a totally impressive and inspiring tour of resources, spaces, environments that each visiting artist may have access to, but of which the visitor may be completely unaware. And these incredibly beautiful, creative, and unused spaces are very much part of the everyday use of the staff and the residents, and I wanted to make use of these spaces in terms of exhibition and not just utility, making this exhibition much like that resident artists’s campus tour—and in turn, a reflection of the house tour that I gave as my studio visit—that made my residency possible.
Artpace: The artwork installed at Artpace represents a small number of the total works in your collection, can you share a little bit about your choice of the specific pieces for installation at Artpace?
Dikeou: The Dikeou Collection has just over 35 different and completely diverse artists working in myriad mediums. I tried to choose works from The Dikeou Collection for all the specific spaces I was hoping to utilize at Artpace and show the artwork from The Dikeou Collection within a different context in San Antonio, by reinterpreting their viewing contexts, and further, if they shared the space with other artists or viewing contexts at Artpace, that these dialogues be different than the dialogues at The Dikeou Collection.
Artpace: The Dikeou Collection is currently housed on the fifth floor of a historic office building, just steps from a popular thoroughfare in downtown Denver: 16th Street. Are there any similarities or stark differences with regard to its home setting versus Artpace?
Dikeou: Well in a way Denver and San Antonio are similar as cities. Both have downtowns that are becoming again sources of creative and enterprising energy. The downtowns are being reborn. Both have a touristic vein that draws visitors to their heart: San Antonio’s is the River Walk and, as you mentioned, Denver has the 16th Street Mall. And Artpace’s building and The Dikeou Collection building are themselves sources of inspiration in that each holds an intrinsic history that, in the end, is part of the artistic installation. And while the historic nature of the buildings is similar, they are fundamentally different. The Artpace building was originally designed as the Hudson Motor Car dealership, including a showroom and repair shops, within a very industrial model, and its spaces reflect that industrial feeling. The Colorado Building where The Dikeou Collection is housed is a pastiche of styles and additions from Beaux Arts and Art Deco, to ’50s mid-century modernism. And the Colorado Building’s primary use was and is office, creating a different artistic setting. So the spaces that house the works in these two places are indeed very different but each reaches to give the art and artists a sanctuary for viewing and creativity while relating to their downtown surroundings.