The Austin Chronicle

Arts Review

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, December 31, 2010, Arts

'Devon Dikeou: You Can Observe a Lot by Watching'

Domy Books, 913 E. Cesar Chavez, 476-3669

Through Jan. 13

It's a perfect fit, for one thing.

Domy Books is where you find, among its graphically elaborate volumes, some of the best magazines the world has to offer, especially in the realm of art: highbrow, lowbrow, fauxbrow, nobrow. And now here, in the midst of this, Devon Dikeou, the editor and publisher of the omnivorous cultural showcase called zingmagazine, has arranged a retrospective of that magazine's issues and some of the materials informing their releases. It's like walking into a three-dimensional catalog of what's gone before.

What is zingmagazine, precisely? It's an ongoing series of curatorial projects: "Each curator is invited to create a context of their choosing for each issue," explains the project's website. "A myriad of different disciplines are explored in each issue from architecture, design, fiction, poetry, drawing, photography, video, music, fashion, as well as special projects, including books, posters, and CDs. Lack of parameters or limits is the impetus ...."

These printed compendiums of visual and textual expression have been offered periodically since 1995, in full-color, perfect-bound glory; the latest volume in the works is No. 22. Here you'll find what is cutting-edge, what was cutting-edge, what old-school works sparked responses from newfangled others, those responses, and so many of the ways possible for vividly expressing the agonies and ecstasies of this momentary taste of being.

Among the methods Dikeou has engaged to display cultural cross-references over the years, perhaps the most remarkable has been the printing of letters – scans of actual documents – exchanged between well-known creatives back in the day. These were featured on the front covers of the early issues of zingmagazine and later migrated to the back covers, still an important touchstone for the continuing endeavor: letters from Igor Stravinsky, Isaac Asimov, Ava Gardner, and others, responding to fan requests or business propositions or aesthetic questions. We mention these, specifically, because "You Can Observe a Lot by Watching" features not only the magazines (handily arranged on small reading shelves on the gallery's walls) but the very letters themselves, lovingly framed.

You could spend hours looking at the back issues after spending minutes looking at the letters. You'd be abetted in your perusal by the helpful signs – white plastic letters on black felt background boards like you might find under glass in the lobby of an office building or the front hall of a Moose Lodge – listing the curators and concerns for each issue. Dikeou has also provided small stools for visitors to sit on as they read and a water cooler to make sure healthy hydration is maintained within Domy's dedicated show space. Because we are, after all, approximately 75% water. And this exhibition? One-hundred percent fascinating.

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