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Security Deposit

Gunner Dongieux

Feb 29, 2024
New York

Gunner Dongieux (b. 1998, New Orleans, LA) lives and works in New York City. His painting practice employs a series of site-specific puns and celebrity motifs in relation to artword success models. In Security Deposit, Dongieux examines the tension between commerce and noncommercial programming, while hamfistedly performing the role of the successful artist.

Security Deposit marks the 20th and final exhibition by Dongieux’s independent curation project in the East Broadway Chinese Mall. As the lease is set to expire (tonight), Dongieux follows the internet entrepreneur mantra of tip your landlord. Four foil canvases, painted with sign painter’s lettering enamel, allude to currency in the visages of Lincoln, FDR, Washington, and 50 Cent. These paintings will be left in the gallery space, effectively gifted to the Chinese Mall landlord, Gary Chong.

Contextualized by its position as an arts space surrounded by vintage retail, Pop Gun’s year-long mall residency probed the potentials of noncommercial programming, while investigating the influence of commerce on curating. The omnipresent influence of capital on the space is rendered by a deadpan Dongieux in Money Longer Goodbye: featuring 24 back-to-back renditions of Pink Floyd’s Money, played over a JBL speaker. In Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973), the film’s title track repeats 8 times in different arrangements, corresponding to detective Marlowe’s mood and surroundings. In homage, Dongieux’s Pink Floyd cover-tracks traverse the musical stylings of rock, jazz, classical, reggae-dub, acapella, and bossa-nova.

Playing the part of the hardboiled detective is a cardboard cutout of Jack Nicholson, from the 1974 film Chinatown. Private Dick, posed before the foil paintings, follows in a line of Dongieux’s site-specific celebrity self-portraits, i.e. The Host (Ryan Seacrest) and Guest Curator (Robert Pattinson). Here, Nicholson is depicted at the end of the film, having cracked the case of an incestual economic conspiracy amid the California Water Wars. The iconic closing lines “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown” expresses an unsatisfying forced finality, leaving the audience to believe that while the case closes, the investigation continues. Private Dick will come with the crowd to Mr. Fong’s tonight, in celebration of Dongieux’s first sold-out solo show.


A single work stands outside of the space, a cardboard cutout of security guard Nehemiah Walker, staged directly in front of his office. While positionally enforcing the authoritarian influence of the mall on the project space, the portrait likewise completes a cycle of equitable exchange. Walker has shielded the gallery from the scrutiny of mall ownership on numerous occasions, and additionally illustrated Dongieux for his own proprietary trading card game. As an act of repayment, Walker will be gifted his cardboard portrait.

Dongieux will continue his curatorial investigations with Pop Gun in a new East Williamsburg project space & painting studio, located at 209 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn NY. Upcoming off-site exhibitions are set to open this year in Berlin, London, Colombia, Chicago, Buffalo, and New Mexico.

– Gunner Dongieux

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