One Way or Another by Megan Dickie

Reviewed by 
Rose Morris

One Way or Another by Megan Dickie

Open Space Victoria. Exhibit runs from January 13th to February 20th

As I walk up the stairs to the Open Space gallery, the first thing I am met with is a pleasant plinking music which simultaneously reminds me of running water and old-school Super Nintendo games. On the stairwell wall is a projected round spiral which moves in hypnotizing circles to the rhythm of the music.

When I reach the main gallery, I see that the music is actually coming from three video screens which are showing three different animated sequences. I wander into the room with my eyes on the screens and consequently almost trip over a sculpture of a giant black barbell with a spiral design on it. I walk past it into a passageway created by four gigantic neon green geometric sculptures that are suspended from the ceiling. I stop in the middle of them. It feels nice in there, like a secret hiding place where none of the other gallery patrons can intrude upon me (even though, of course, they can). It is odd to feel so peaceful surrounded by so much neon. Perhaps this is the kind of escape that we feel in the neon world of video games and arcades, both clear inspirations for Dickie’s work.

One of the video screens features a character attempting to lift and carry a giant dumbbell, but falling over it, rolling with it comically, and ultimately falling on her face. It’s the same dumbbell as the sculpture in front of the video screens and the same dumbbell I almost tripped over when I entered the gallery. I feel validated as I wonder whether the placement of the sculpture was meant to almost trip me up so that I would relate to the character on the screen more readily, although I suspect that this was not intentional on the part of the artist, but simply a symptom of my own natural clumsiness. Either way, it enhanced my experience of the exhibit.

Another screen features a different masked character jumping from pillar to pillar (in heels, no less!), Mario-like. With each completed jump, the screen shifts and new pillars appear, leaving the character in an endless journey of jumping from one pillar to another without actually getting any further. “One Way or Another highlights the failure involved in the quest for excellence,” reads the first line of Megan Dickie’s artist’s statement for this exhibit.  This can be seen most clearly in the video pieces which are central to the exhibit.

Although the pieces in the exhibit do not have many similarities in terms of medium, there is a cohesive theme of the struggle to achieve success, competition (especially prevalent in a metal sculpture which uses a teeter-totter-type mechanism to hold some figures up while holding others down), identity, and athleticism, particularly in relation to the feminine body. The exhibit is a joy to explore and only falls short in that it is a fairly small exhibit that leaves you wanting a lot more. All in all, Dickie’s work is thought-provoking, accessible, and playful.

Dickie will be giving an artist’s talk at Open Space on February 11th from 1:30-3:30, followed by a workshop in collaboration with the West Coast League of Lady Wrestlers, who sound like a delightful bunch.

--Rose Morris

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