Work samples

  • 100years.jpg
    performance image from 100 years without progress
  • balance1
    Compound Balance installed in the Corcoran Atrium
  • stewart.jpg
  • compound balance
    detail, compound balance

About David

Baltimore City
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… more

one hundred years without progress (performance) 2021-2022

A number of years a go I became enraged listening to a public radio news commentary program describing the output of garment workers as “unskilled labour”. The commentator likely meant well, but had he ever taken the time to inspect his collar and cuffs and contemplate the exquisite dexterity that went into the production of his shirt?
The kind of bias that allows us to admire the skill of a radio host (while he manifestly misunderstands the premise of his argument) while discounting the acute abilities of a garment worker can only be informed by a history of colonization, war capitalism, state capitalism and racism.
The sewing machine, particularly the classic black “Singer”, is an exemplar of the machine era. It is beautiful, substantial and functionally marvelous but its presence, influence and history is not benign. The mechanization of the textile industry concentrated labour, transforming the subsistence agrarian populations on many continents into a landless proletariat, leading to exploitation coerced labour, enslavement and the transportation of enslaved people.
The industrialists in the heat of the Industrial Revolution understood that due to technological advancement, their machines would be redundant in as little as three years. In order to justify their investment, they would have to run their machines day and night, which led to 24-hour shift work (which is in itself inhumane), the labour shortage that ensued, precipitated an explosion in child labour in Europe as well as fostering the dehumanizing notion that people are inferior to capital.
A notable illustration of this devaluation of human life was the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, New York City’s deadliest industrial disaster claiming the lives of 146 garment workers, mostly recent immigrants between ages 16-23, many of whom jumped to their deaths because the exits were locked to prevent theft and unauthorized breaks.
In Bangladesh in 2013, Rana Plaza collapsed, killing 1134 garment workers. The building had been declared unsafe. Banks and stores in the plaza were closed, but the 5000 garment workers were threatened with termination if the did not show up for work.
As consumers, we are at least culpable in this continuing tragedy
  • 100.1
    subject (me!) suspended in supine restraint
  • 100.2
    "ground crew" preparing to suspend seated subjects
  • 100.3.jpg
    hoisting subjects
  • 100.4.jpg
    suspended subject counterbalanced by Singer class 7 sewing machine
  • 100.5.jpg
    humans and machines
  • 100.6
    suspended humans
  • 100.7
    care and maintenance, attending a human subject
  • 100.8
    performance activity
  • 100.9
    performance and material detail
  • 100.10
    performance detail

one hundred years without progress (installation) 2022

“one hundred years without progress” 2022 (installation) antique sewing machines, fabric, thread, leather, rope, hardware. Varying dimensions
The work was included in a show at the Baltimore Museum of Art, but it was clear that they could not accommodate the performative aspect of the piece. I installed it as static installation
I was interested in how the meaning would change or persist without the dynamism of performance or with the change in environment from an industrial space to a polished museum interior
  • 100 years
    view of 100 years without progress, installed at the Baltimore Museum of Art
  • 100 years
    view of 100 years without progress, installed at the Baltimore Museum of Art
  • 100 years
    detail of 100 years without progress, installed at the Baltimore Museum of Art
  • 100 years
    detail of 100 years without progress, installed at the Baltimore Museum of Art
  • 100 years
    detail of 100 years without progress, installed at the Baltimore Museum of Art
  • 100 years
    detail of 100 years without progress, installed at the Baltimore Museum of Art
  • 100 years
    detail of 100 years without progress, installed at the Baltimore Museum of Art
  • 100 years
    detail of 100 years without progress, installed at the Baltimore Museum of Art
  • 100 years
    detail of 100 years without progress, installed at the Baltimore Museum of Art
  • 100 years
    detail of 100 years without progress, installed at the Baltimore Museum of Art

surplus/shortage 2023 wood, rope, leather, hardware

surplus/shortage, 2023  Varying dimensions (suspended object: 12x13x75”) wood, rope, leather, hardware
61 carved wooden spoons and rigging
Of all the utensils that attend the preparation, serving and consumption of food, the spoon is the most intimate, pushing beyond the barrier of lips and teeth, entering the cavity of the mouth in order to deliver its contents. It is also universal, whichever utensils are culturally or personally favored, the spoon is invariably included.
It is remarkable how easily food is transformed from the necessity    of nutrition into a means of exchange, a threat or a weapon. As a commodity, the market is interested in quantity with little or no attention to how nutritious, fragrant or delicious the food may be. Prices are determined by demand, profits may be extracted from distortions or imbalances in demand and supply.
An international commodity market leads inevitably to “rationalized” production, concentration and reliance on particular growing regions, agri-business, precipitating monoculture, soil depletion and labour exploitation. 
Transnational corporations further degrade biodiversity, developing and patenting grains and seeds that work exclusively with proprietary herbicides and fertilizers. The rationale, according to their public relations professionals, is that all this is necessary to feed the Earth and its people, this ignores the fact that one third of annual global food production goes to waste. Hunger is a result of ineffective distribution rather than production. The patent is a technology for hoarding intellectual “property” and certainly not a means of food distribution.

We cannot ignore the use of arable land for cultivating non-food crops such as cotton, corn-syrup and bio-fuels. These pressures squeeze out sustainable and subsistence farming methods, creating regional food shortages, inequality and promoting labour exploitation as the Earth and its people need nutritional food and humane working and living conditions.        
  • surplus/shortage
    complete rear view of hanging object, rigging and hardware
  • surplus/shortage
    front view detail
  • surplus/shortage
    rear view detail in studio
  • surplus/shortage
    detail of hardware, grommet adapter and eye-splices
  • surplus/shortage
    60 carved spoons 2.5x2.5x16"
  • surplus/shortage
    At the sawmill: planed local poplar ready to load into my Honda Element (no room for passengers)
  • surplus/shortage
    cardboard templates
  • surplus/shortage
  • surplus/shortage
    form roughed out
  • surplus/shortage
    rear process image

Compound Balance

Compound Balance consists of 2 sturdy bags. One contains a bound person and the other, a counterweight filled with sand that escapes in a slow trickle from a funnel in the bottom of the bag. Both bags are suspended by a balance mechanism with a lever that favours the counterweight bag. The bag containing the person closed by a scissor mechanism that stays locked under tension. As long as there is sufficient mass in the counterweight, the person remains locked and suspended in the bag and must wait for enough sand to escape in order to equalize the weight and release the lock.
  • ballance.jpg
  • testing apparatus in the studio
  • before performance, installation at the Corcoran
  • ready to hoist
  • transported
  • hoisted
  • in the bag
  • filling with sand
  • performance: counterweight
  • performance view from above

"don't need no hero" 2019

"don't need no hero",  2019. fabric, felt, leather, steel, hardware, industrial blower & me

As my work became more complex with multiple participants, my role in the performances changed from subject to orchestrator, I wanted to get back to a simple act where I would be the (subject) person facing the dilemma.
I devised a machine, which would provide me with ample air, the most basic need but totally restrict movement, preventing sight while the noise of the air supply would prevent me from hearing anything outside the machine. The device was locked closed by means of steel cables, which terminated in 3 padlocks, all of which would have to be unlocked in order to release me.
I mailed the keys for the locks to three people who had been subjects in previous pieces with instructions to attend the show and unlock their padlock when they felt it was right for them.

Fluid Balance, a proposal

In recent work I have investigated, illustrated and attempted to explain intersecting
matters of threat, risk, punishment, power imbalances, hierarchies, agency and everyday
brutality. My work consists largely of sculpture-based performance or performancebased
sculpture. I also exhibit drawings and smaller objects and object based
I propose a balance mechanism that uses the mass, volume and restricted flow of water
as a kind if time-lock mechanism that counterbalances a person with a drum of fluid
The apparatus comprises a base supporting a vertical element equipped with several
pivot points that support a series of parallel levers. The levers support on the one end, a
polypropylene drum with a capacity of 30 gallons and on the other end a hoist with
harness, into which a human subject may be strapped
Once the subject is strapped into the harness, water is pumped into the drum from a
reservoir tank, which counterbalances the subject hoisting them off the ground. Once
hoisted the subject is locked into the harness and cannot be removed.
The subject is strapped into the harness, water is pumped into the drum from a reservoir
tank, causing the drum to descend and hoisting the counterbalanced subject off the
ground. Once hoisted the subject is locked into the harness by the tension of the hoist
and cannot be removed.
Once the drum is full a slow drain is activated and the begins to flow, return to the
reservoir which act as a kind of time lock, as the barrel empties and rises, the human
subject is slowly lowered to the ground. When the tension on the harness is neutralized
the person may be released from the harness.
  • Fluid Balance at rest
  • Fluid Balance hoisted
  • Fluid balance combined

studio play

  • "cleat head" 2021 leather, wood, felt
  • D ring 2021 haerware, leather, thread, webbing
  • splice 2021 hemp rope, leather, thread
  • "Deurgang"
    “Deurgang” (passage) 43x25x1cm vinyl, felt, brass

    I received from Anna, a spectrogram and a voice-piece (I assume it is voice), which is air escaping the body.
    I blindfolded myself and listened to it repeatedly, the durable visual was of the spectrogram, like a curtain or barrier.
    The music, modulated and melodic was “undermined” by another breath or an alternate expression of the same breath, raspy guttural, sometimes gurgling, both were beautiful, I was interested in how these two modes competed with one another creating a scrim or mesh.
    I thought about barriers and how they inevitably become permeable, I contemplated osmosis.
    Orange is an attractive but clumsy colour, vinyl is obvious and clumsy like orange
    Felt is ancient and noble, the holes are all that hold them together.
  • The undeniable juiciness of orange thread
    The undeniable juiciness of orange thread, felt, canvas beeswax and thread, 4x13x13”

    Process took over. Informed by Susanne’s use of thread, I picked bright orange and began stitching felt, surprised by how vibrant the concentrated threads were against the grey. The tension of the threads created surface relief and enhanced structure. I had an aerated container or vessel in mind and was thinking about the implausible story of the infant Moses adrift in a watertight basket, an early escape capsule. For the bottom I fashioned a canvas bowl, treated it with beeswax harvested from our backyard beehives (thanks bees!) so it would float, sewed the two halves together and placed it in a tub of water. Who needs the River Nile? Mythology has little use for precise geography.
  • Big_ass grommets
  • surplus head