Devon Dikeou: The Pope's Chair

Devon Dikeou
"Pray For me" --- Pope Francis I, Titian: Pope Paul III and his grandsons, 2014
Mounted c-print
82.625 x 69.33 in / 209.87 x 176.10 cm
edition of 1/1 + 1 AP
Image courtesy the artist and James Fuentes LLC, New York 

Devon Dikeou's latest installation "Pray For Me" --- Pope Francis I appropriates the formal arrangements of Pope paintings made during the 1500s to 1800s.  Showing now until July 28th at James Fuentes, it features mounted color photographs of empty "monk" chairs in addition to the installation of 17th century friarleros.

This exhibition comes with a nicely printed color-pamphlet in which includes an essay by Dikeou.  She writes: "Seatings at galleries, museums, and art fairs is always a conundrum. gallerists, museum curators, and art booth proprietors either lack chairs to sit on, ... curate seating ... rent chairs ... [t]here is rarely a place for the tired art-goer to settle for long and because of this lack of seating in galleries ... one might mistakenly sit on a treasure ..."  

Her opening statement inserts a subtle sense of humor into the installation.  These "relics" with all their pomp and ceremony become merely pieces of functional furniture.  Lined up in the manner of seatings in a theater, the unoccupied chairs signify a play without audience and actors.  But there is more ...

"Pray For Me" -- Pope Francis I
Installation view taken on the opening evening at
James Fuentes LLC, New York
Photo: Peter Duhon

Devon Dikeou
"Pray For Me" --- Pope Francis I, Velazquez: Pope Innocent X, 2014
Mounted c-print
47 x 45 in / 119.38 x 114.30 cm
Edition 1/1 + 1AP
Image courtesy the artist and James Fuentes LLC, New York

Aside from humor, this installation presents social and art historical commentary on the discrepancy between the objects' commercial value versus their cultural value.  Originally referred to as friarieros, meaning "brothers" due to their use by monks and higher actuary such as popes, each chair in the installation is named after an historical painting of a pope. For instance, Raphael's Julius II and Lex X, Sebastiano de Piombo's Clement VII, Titian's Paul III, Sixtus IV, El Greco's Pius V, Caravaggio's Paul V, Velázquez's Innocent X, and Jacques Louis David's Pius VII.  Rather than tagged with prices indicating their commercial value, these 17th century pieces are labeled with the names of the painters and the pope who would sit in the represented chairs.  

Hanging on the wall are photographs of each chair taken by the artist with the intention to appropriate the monetary and art historical value in real and literal terms.  As the actual friarieros begin to deteriorate and pieces of fabric disintegrate, the photographs serve as a form of documentation attesting to the growth of their value as collectible antiquities.  

Devon Dikeou
"Pray For Me" --- Pope Francis I, Jaques Louis David: Pope Lius VII, 2014
Mounted c-print
34 x 28 in / 86.36 x 71.12 cm
Edition 1/1 + 1 AP
Image courtesy the artist and James Fuentes LLC, New York

Dikeou's current exhibition at James Fuentes is an intriguing and intelligent presentation of "emptiness" that draws attention to the significance of a negative space.  Its presence is marked by the apparition of something that once stood for great cultural and historical importance.  At the same time, her work reacts to the reality of the lack of seating in art exhibition spaces.  The two concepts simultaneously transport one to pre-modern times and places one right in the present. 

Devon Dikeou is also the founder, editor and publisher of zingmagazine, and a co-founder and curator of The Dikeou Collection in Downtown Denver.  


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