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About David

Baltimore City

David Page's picture
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

David Page's portfolio

Thought Experiment

Thought Experiment, 2018 65x75x42 vinyl, canvas, leather, steel, wood, hardware, air, human subjects

The work refers to a category of thought experiments known as the Prisoners’ Dilemma, which relies on an absurd and implausible premise, (largely because it requires for its solution that both the authorities and the apprehended criminals think and act rationally at each turn). It is about the absurdity of thought experiments generally.

I imagined 2 human participants/subjects, each inclined at 60 degrees, held in angular suspension by each other’s weight. I was also thinking of hackneyed trust-building exercises that one might encounter during team-building events.

The piece was exhibited and performed at Struktura Gallery in Sofia Bulgaria. The structural plywood elements were fabricated in Bulgaria via CNC router according to my specifications. The rest of the material was carried on as checked baggage and assembled on site.

Entangle 2018

Entangle 2018 vinyl, felt, steel, aluminium, blower housing, bicycle components, hardware, air, human participants 56x54x32”

Entangle describes a relationship between a bound captive in the enclosed vinyl structure and one who provides air by means of a pedal driven blower. The air is necessary for comfort and breath

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.

Security Theatre: Stack

Security Theatre investigates the dissonant and seemingly inverse relationship between perceived threat and measurable risk by looking at the artifacts of security and the aesthetics of punishment. The piece has two components: Stack, consisting of 6 human subjects affixed to the wall and Pulmonate which comprises 5 subjects arrayed cross-legged on the floor.

Author, prankster and security expert Bruce Schneier uses the phrase “security theater” to describe a state where, in the wake of a spectacular criminal or terrorist event, countermeasures are adopted that do little or nothing to create a condition of safety, but only create the illusion of security.

We are more moved by stories than data. We find the sensational crime more compelling than the bland fact that we are unlikely to be harmed by a criminal act.

This imbalance between sensation and fact is destructive, opportunists on all sides of the political spectrum seize upon isolated criminal events to describe a society out control and hold themselves up as the only possible solution to this artificial condition. An increase in the perception of safety is inevitably accompanied by the forfeiture of liberty.

Security Theatre: Pulmonate

Security Theatre: Pulmonate 2016, 42”x180x180 (approx.) vinyl, felt, canvas, thread, steel, wood, hardware, air & 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.

Compound Balance

Compound Balance 2006-2018 steel, aluminium, canvas, leather, sand and 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 person facing the dilemma.

In Compound Balance, a counterweight lifts a bag containing a bound human subject, by means of a scissor action, locking hoist. 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.

And now we shall live forever 2015-2017

In this piece I sought to use parts of the gallery that were otherwise useless to other artists in a rather crowded group show, fashioning fleshy vinyl pads to cushion any architectural features (corners, railings and pillars) that I feared may injure a viewer.

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.

David's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.