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Work Samples


Conveyance, 2017. Vinyl, wood, steel, leather, hardware ducts air, occasional human occupant 40x19x30” First in a series of moveable objects containing live humans that need to be manipulated by the viewer(s) in order to experience the work. I was contemplating notions of agency and complicity


About David

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, David Page earned a National Diploma in Fine Arts from the Cape Tecnikon in 1986 and received an MFA from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2002.   Recent solo shows include Security Theatre at the Creative Alliance (Baltimore), God and Lunchmeat at Old Dominion University and “Staan Nader, Staan Terug!” (come closer, get away!) at Stevenson University.   He received the Maryland State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award in 1996, 2007, 2009,... more

Ornamental Cookery

Ornamental Cookery

“Hence a cookery which is based on coatings and alibis, and is for ever trying to extenuate and even to disguise the primary nature of foodstuffs, the brutality of meat or the abruptness of sea-food.”

In his 1957 essay, Ornamental Cookery, French philosopher and literary theorist, Roland Barthes skewers mid-century food photography as an aspirational petit bourgeois convention. He cites an “endeavour to glaze surfaces, to round them off, to bury the food under the even sediment of sauces, creams, icing and jellies”.

The use of the word “alibi” intrigues and excites me because it implicates us (the consumers) in the brutality surrounding the “primary nature of foodstuffs”. Try to contemplating with every bite, the cruelty, maltreatment, exploitation, inequality, commodity dumping, price fixing, nutrient runoff, excessive pesticide and herbicide use, dirt, viscera, blood and slaughter that comprises our food supply chain. Little wonder that we use utensils, simple technology that not only keeps our hands clean, but distances us from the underlying horror of what we eat.

Similarly, upon getting dressed one confronts (or chooses not to) the exploitation, coercion, displacement of populations, child labour, sweatshop conditions, horrific (and avoidable) industrial accidents, war, colonialism and slavery that are the history and present of the textile and garment industry.

I have selected the spoon, the most sensual of utensils and the sewing machine, the charismatic icon of the industrial age. Apart from their appeal as seductive objects, they further complicate meaning by being signifiers of class. Just like knowing which diminutive spoon or fork is appropriate while dining, a home sewing machine implies polite accomplishment, while an industrial sewing machines recall images of rationalized labour. The same appliance depending on size and context is used to domesticate and industrialize.

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    Singer “F” class harness machine, padded canvas and leather cover, single flange wheels and rail
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    Title panel with spoon/axe
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    Tower, sandbags, steel fence and carved wooden spoons
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    General view of installation
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    Singer model 3115 industrial sewing machine, casters, fabric and canvas protective cover
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    Singer model 3115 industrial sewing machine, casters, fabric and vinyl protective cover
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    Singer model 3115 industrial sewing machine on casters
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    Singer model 3115 industrial sewing machine, casters, fabric and canvas protective cover
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    General view of installation
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    General view of installation

Stack 2016

Stack 2016 , vinyl, felt, canvas, thread, steel, wood, hardware, 6 human subjects, 160x192x18” and 36x72x80”
A number of years ago, riding my bicycle on an urban bike-path that passed by Baltimore’s prison, I encountered an unusual spectacle: Throngs of people in their finest clothing, standing shoulder to shoulder on the freeway pass overlooking the prison, waving at the tiers and rows of tiny windows that faced the roadway. It was heartbreaking, not just because of the juxtaposition and contrast between the apparent cheerfulness of the scene, the pain of separation and the reality of incarceration, but that the scene illustrated the scale and effects of excessive incarceration in our nation

6 human participants, standing on small steel perches, affixed to the wall with vinyl and felt enclosures are supplied air by viewers operating six large bellows, By operating the bellows the viewers perform an act of kindness or duty but are nonetheless made complicit in the captivity of the six people on the wall.

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    Frontal view with bellows in the foreground
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    wide view during performance
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    Attaching subjects to the wall
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    Using crane and harness to elevate subject
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    Crane for lifting subjects
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    Attaching subjects to the wall
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    Attaching subjects to the wall


Pulmonate 2016, vinyl, felt, canvas, thread, steel, wood, hardware, 5 human subjects

This work is a refinement of a previous piece, “Camp X” inspired by the early images of Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Initially I had used blowers to supply air to the people imprisoned inside the vinyl and felt structures, but the use of bellows, operated by viewers at once mimicked the action of lungs and implicate the viewer in the action.

Tether 2014

Requiring two participants, one is locked inside a padded canvas suit; restrained cross-legged and unable to move, the subject is also hooded and unable to see. The suit is locked and secured by means of a 1/4'” steel cable, passing trough a number of loops, making it impossible to free the first participant without cutting the cable. The cable is finally secured around the waist of the second participant who may move about only to the extent that he or she is tethered by the cable.

For this performance, the duration of the first participant depended on the duration that it would take to be towed on a small cart from the Eastern end of the National Mall to the side entrance of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, a distance of about 2 miles, arriving to coincide with the exhibition housing the piece. The restrained participant would be released and the two would switch roles inside the gallery, remaining locked together for the duration of the reception

Everything went according to plan, despite the biting cold, until we rounded the final corner and were challenged and detained by the uniformed Secret Service, who objected to the activity so close to the White House.

The object is dead

We no longer have the same relationships with durable useful objects, the transformation of the means and place of production leaves us with items that are discarded if worn, obsolete or redundant, we no longer have intimacy with tools, the original made objects.

The useful object, if it survives, is more often than not displayed an artifact or even a relic, functioning more as an image than a discreet object.

Anticipating a post-object culture, we are left to speculate about its effects, Relationships with objects inform our understanding of grammar and sentence structure as well as means for comparison. Vocabulary is largely dependent on descriptions of objects; there was no name for the colour blue until blue dyes were common. The fact that the cloudless sky and the sea (both voids) were blue was immaterial, we had to hold blue in our hand in order to regard and describe its appearance

Dead or alive, some objects assert their prerogatives. In pre-lingual fashion, the baseball bat, the wing nut and the Acheulian hand axe communicate intuitive instructions for their use. Perhaps like Schrodinger’s cat we can regard the object as being simultaneously alive and dead.

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