zero-sum game


SITUATIONS presents “non-zero sum,” a solo presentation of artist Mariah Dekkenga, who lives between Vermont and Qatar. Three new large scale paintings will be displayed alongside a game titled “A Two-Player Game Without Opponents.” She invites participants to sit and roll the dice, but there are no winners. The objective is for two people to work together in creating a unique, randomized pattern with colorful wooden pieces resembling pixels.  

Exhibitions are social spaces and dilemmas in the real world do not have unequivocal results. The theory of non-zero-sum games better represents the dynamics of the world we live in because there is no universally accepted solution. The artist sets up a scenario in which competitive and cooperative elements simultaneously exist but there is no single optimal strategy that is preferable to all others, nor is there a predictable outcome.  

Dekkenga’s work embraces technology as a tool, which does more than simply utilize tech as subject matter. The way in which she uses software and references computer culture constantly contradicts the classic mediums she embraces, such as painting or woodworking. In her painting, Dekkenga has developed a personalized method of arriving at her compositions. Fusing computerized color scales and painterly action, selected digital configurations are meticulously painted by hand. She gesturally builds an impasto layer beneath a geometric abstract painting, employing digital colors and blurred edge resolution. Historical attributes point toward the current digital age. 

On the occasion of this exhibition, SITUATIONS has produced a publication containing a conversation between Mariah Dekkenga and artist/poet Ben Estes (The Song Cave), alongside a poem by Zoe Brezsny titled “Heart Megopolis.”


MARIAH DEKKENGA has held solo and two-­person exhibitions at SITUATIONS, New York; Eli Ping Frances Perkins, New York; Aetopolous, Athens Greece; Mass Art, Austin TX; and Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. Selected group exhibitions include Clifton Benevento, NY; Suzanne Geiss, NY; The Hole, NY; Denny Gallery, NY; Kraftwerk Gallery, Berlin, Germany; Takt Kunstprojectraum, Berlin, Germany; Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA; and The Fire Station, Doha, Qatar. In 2013 Dekkenga produced a public mural for A.U.N.T.S. Movement Research, Brooklyn NY and designed a Chapbook cover for Elizabeth Zuba published by The Song Cave, Brooklyn NY in 2015. She graduated from The University of Iowa with an MFA in 2008 where she received the Mildred Pelzer Lynch Fellowship. Dekkenga has since been invited and participated in residencies at the Babayan Culture House in Cappadocia, Turkey; Takt Kunstraum Tapir in Berlin; and Officina Stamperia del Notaio in Tusa, Spain. Her work is held in the collections of QMA Qatar Museums, Doha, Qatar; Aïshti Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon; and the New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY.