David is an artist that uses mail art, photography, performance art, water color and art books as mediums. He has also created some fascinating online projects, the “241543903/Head-in-a-Freezer” meme involved people taking a picture with their head in a freezer, uploading it to Google and tagging it with “241543903.” When you Google that sequence of numbers there is a plethora of images of heads in Freezers. David has exhibited at SF Camerawork, MoMA, the New Museum, Tate Modern and most recently The Brooklyn Museum.

1. How long have you been at Pioneer Works and what brought you here?

A few months. Clara Halpern, a curator from Toronto, is including some work of mine in a show there in a few months. I was on the west coast a lot over the summer and gave up my studio in NY. When I visited the space with Clara I thought it’d be a good idea to have a studio here to think about work for the show. And there was an opening. So I got in. 

2. Can you talk to us about your upcoming show at PW? 

It’s really Clara Halpern’s show. I’ll have some work. Maybe some enchiladas from Marfa. Maybe a bag of clothes left in Holland. Maybe solidified hours in the shape of vases. Maybe roses. Or lilies. Maybe a bicycle on the beach. Maybe windows. Honey locust trees.

3. One of the mediums you work with is the mail, what first inspired mail art projects?

When I was in High School I would go to the post office in El Segundo, CA every week and mail things to my friend Mia Nolting, who moved to Orinda, CA. I tried to mail her the craziest things I could think of. Usually giant pieces of cardboard. This was just me being a teenager and trying to do crazy things at the post office. Later I would learn about mail art. 

4. One continuous mail art project involves MoMA, there are a few pieces in the studio that you’re getting ready to send. How has this particular project evolved over the last couple of years?

You are talking about MoMA Cubicle, a secret show in the administration offices of MoMA. There’s actually so much work in it that the show is now traveling to other cubicles inside the museum. This body of work is one of the works of mine that I am really drawn to. Mostly because it is something that happened organically and unplanned. It was just spontaneous, and over time it grew. I randomly started sending mail artworks to someone I know at MoMA who specializes in mail art. Over time I started to send more. It evolved. Things changed. I was told that anything I sent to her was automatically considered property of the museum since it was an artwork and she was an employee of the museum. So that added another layer to it. At one point all of the works went to a show in Den Haag. And then back to MoMA. Over the year people have visited it, some have written about it. It just happened. It’s a work that I wouldn’t really be able to plan out, or to outline in a future proposal. It just came together over time. And none of it is mine anymore. Which is nice. I don’t like clutter. I don’t like having things around. 

5. How might one go about viewing this work at MoMA?

It’s a secret. If I said how to do it on the internet someone would get mad at me. You have to know whose cubicle it is. Then you send her an email or call her, and she gives you a tour. It is by appointment only, unless you happen to be inside MoMA’s offices. I’m not saying what department it is in. Or… What departments… But if you see me in person, I’ll tell you who it is you have to email. Word of mouth only…

6. This past spring/summer you had a show at the New Museum titled Gnomons. In one of the pieces titled Let Us Keep Our Own Noon, 47 performers collectively ring bells and disperse around the city and museum until they couldn’t hear the other bells, what did you want the viewer to take away from this?

This piece is actually on view at the Brooklyn Museum right now. Well, what do you mean by viewers? People who view the performance? Or just view the installation? Or the participant as viewer? The 47 bells were made from a French church tower bell that was made in the 1740’s. It used to ring the hours of the day. The bronze was melted down to form the 47 bells that hang in the installation, bells that are the same style as the big bell, and that fit inside of the palm of ones hand. This bronze had rung the time of the day for centuries, this literal metal. I was trying to think of a way to hold time in your hands. Here the bell is a materialization of this past time. But its also this melting and fragmenting of this old bell. So I’m thinking about subjective time. About your own time. YOUR OWN TIME! Not the time of schedules or centralized time telling devices which dictate your behavior - but a time that is yours.  


7. Your film The Distance of a Day was also exhibited at the New Museum, you filmed the sunrise from the Maldives and your mother filmed the sunset in LA (locations half way around the world from each other) at the exact same time. Can you tell about the significance of this project to you? Was there a particular reason you chose your Mother to film part of the event?

I wanted one video to be shot in California from the Palos Verdes Peninsula, a place I used to make work when I was younger. So it was about my home in a sense, where I am from. It’s watching the sun go down in California, and imaging being on the otherside of that. So I traveled to the other side. And since it was about where I am from, my mom, it just made sense that I should ask my mom to do it. 

8. A lot of your work deals with space and time, what attracts you to these themes?

Because no one has time anymore.  

9. So far what has been the most rewarding part about your time at PW?


View more of David’s work here.