More about David Siever
David Siever’s art is inherently political and narrative, using the data of the past to comment on the present. Sculpted from unglazed ceramic, Siever’s miniature figures reveal largely unknown histories hidden within the depths of archives. They are inspired by historical events, even more so by the people that history has forgotten, the “footnotes” of history. The figures, while representational, are figurative; made of unglazed ceramic their material mirrors their discomfort with their own bodies, with their lives. Their lack of color points to their fading into obscurity.
The fragility of the material mirrors his subject’s discomfort, with their own bodies, with their lives. Their lack of color mimics their fading into obscurity. History is often presented as the stories of heroes and heroic action. Yet who reveres or even remembers the first woman sent to the electric chair, a sad husband cuckolded by a Civil War General, the hapless soldier mutilated in battle, the fading strength of the failed polar explorer still proud to die for the glory of Britain—all fading into history, barely remembered, as we will be one day be, all “footnotes.”
Through creating sculptures, Siever hopes, however briefly, to bring the stories of these lost figures to life, to have them step out of the photographs, lithographs and letters that comprise their only record and reemerge in three dimensions. All history is construction; a story created to explain a given set of facts. Siever’s sculptures are no different—they are personal interpretations, as much about himself as the overt events depicted. Desire, ambition and human cruelty form the core of his work. While the subjects are often tragedies or pointless atrocities, they also contain the humor inherent in human frailty. His figures are also the exact size of the action figures he played with as a child, creating stories and imagining who he would become. Lying on the floor, manipulating the figures, he could enter their world, and they became the characters of his fantasies. Like their childhood counterparts, the sculptures, his “inaction figures” have entered the domain of dreams, a place far distant from their origins. Each roombox contains a vignette at once horrible, familiar and funny. He is a visual storyteller, part of a long tradition of narrative sculpture.