July 26th, 2013 · Performa

Introducing About Time

A Performa Magazine Commission featuring David Gilbert, July 29–August 19

Night, 2013. Color photograph. 13 x 19 inches. Limited PERFORMA Magazine Edition of 10.


A limited-edition of ten print of Night, 2013, are available for purchase through Performa: 

About Time


Performa Magazine is delighted to introduce About Time, a new series of commissioned photography premiering work by visual artists who are looking at art today and in history, distorting and manipulating the processes of creating powerful images within a performative context.

Performance documentation has evolved in the last decades as our notions of performance have evolved: its aesthetics developing, its visual signifiers crystallizing. Images are not only re-appropriated, but outright staged; we can look at Ryan McNamara’s gallery exhibition “Still,” using the artist’s background as a performance artist and his use of public participation to create group photos, complete with props, the gallery a proscenium for these amusing, if momentary, collaborations. We can look a generation further back to Francesca Woodman’s bodies in performance, identities hiding in nude portraits.

The first artist featured in About Time is David Gilbert, a photographer and installation artist based in Los Angeles. Gilbert photographs precarious, delicate situations in his studio, leaving us to wonder how long until a teetering installation collapses once his camera snaps a photo. His work straddles a line between documentation and portraiture: an accumulation of materials that feel personified support each other in various stages of their (still-) life cycles. Each frame captures the moment before unraveling.

He explores the life span of commonplace materials such as paper-towel rolls and bits of cardboard, fabric, and string; tracing their presence from situation to situation, as the detritus from one installation is revived obliquely in another. The materials live on capable of having several lives and incarnations simultaneously: as sculpture, as photograph, as jpeg.  Gilbert makes sculpture as a photographer, tactile yet flat, making reference to how we see images today: online, on screens, where they are perpetually refreshed and seen anew.

These “portraits" of objects playfully metamorphose on both conceptual and formal levels: His Little Flamer (2010) has fabric flames in acid colors erupting from a lowly cardboard paper-towel tube, which are finally extinguished in flat white paint. The soft textures and color palette of works such as Scary Mary (2010), Couple (2009), and Light Impressions (2008) assert aesthetic propositions less candidly. The carefully lit compositions reveal his intimacy with photography’s history: previous descriptions of his work refer to the chiaroscuro finesse of the Old Masters; photographs with pristine backgrounds suggest Richard Avedon’s portrait studio drop-cloths.

For About Time, David has culled his archive and selected one object, a tall cardboard box, to follow its transformation in his studio. He will then use this adorned object to produce three new images over a month. These images will then be uploaded to Performa Magazine from July 29 to August 19. Limited-edition prints will be available for purchase.

It is this intent that we wish About Time to encourage: knowing the impossibility of, but yet still acting on, the impulse to stop a moment from disintegrating.


Dawn, 2013. Color Photograph.


Early Morning, 2013. Color photograph.


Mid Morning, 2013. Color photograph.
Noon, 2013. Color photograph.


Early Afternoon, 2013. Color photograph.


Late Afternoon, 2013. Color photograph.
Twilight, 2013. Color photograph.


Evening, 2013. Color photograph.


Night, 2013. Color photograph.

David Gilbert (b. 1982, New York) is based in Los Angeles. He received his BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, and his MFA from the University of California, Riverside. He has exhibited at Abrons Arts Center, Andrea Rosen Gallery, Bronx Museum of Art, White Box (all New York); Clifford Art Gallery, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York; and ACME, Los Angeles, and reviewed in The New Yorker, Hyperallergic, and I Heart Photograph. He is represented by Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery in New York, and his forthcoming exhibition will open there in September 2013.

He maintains a tumblr of his own: artfortheinternet.tumblr.com.

About Time is organized by Job Piston, Performa Special Projects.

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