This Ain’t No Grocery Store

David Baumflek

Curated by Naomi Beckwith

Exhibition Dates: November 3 through November 24, 2007
Opening reception: Saturday, November 3, 4-6pm

For more information please contact: Naomi Beckwith at

According to an ancient Greek myth, Tantalus, a mortal king and son of Zeus, was invited to dine with the gods on Mt. Olympus. Tantalus – ever the trickster – not only stole ambrosia from the divine dinner table but also served up his own butchered son, Pelop, when hosting another banquet in gratitude to the gods. The gods, disgusted at this sordid feast, restored Pelop to life and installed Tantalus chin-deep in a pool of water underneath a fruit tree for all eternity. And for all eternity, whenever Tantalus reached up for fruit, the branches snatched away from his reach. Whenever he stooped for water, the waters receded into the dark earth.

The English word, tantalize – to present something desirable only to keep it out of reach – is derived from this story and an apt description for the tease David Baumflek enacts in this sculptural installation: Still Life with Tables. A pyramid of ghostly white tables is a formidable architectural insertion into the Cuchifritos space that keeps their contents, some derived from the market, just out of visitors’ reach. Several small tableaux on the table tops are only visible in the mirror images projected from above the viewer while those at the very top remain an impossible prize. Surrounding this whole installation, several cast hands maintain an open gesture, signifying supplication and generosity at the same time.

Reminiscent of Rachel Whiteread’s domestic interstitial spaces, Baumflek’s monochrome installation mimics the stark minimalism of the Cuchifritos gallery space while depending on the generosity of vendors in the historic market beyond the gallery walls. A fortuitous homage to the very structures of exchange in the Essex market, the installation makes the visitor reflect on their own needs and provides respite from a consumerist condition of coerced supply and demand. Unlike a grocery store display – which may utilize outlandish visual shock to manufacture desire – Baumflek’s spare work frames and reflects the very limits of desire for viewers.

David Baumflek is a Brooklyn-born sculptor whose work has been included in group and solo shows at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Black Floor Gallery in Philadelphia and the Oni Gallery in Boston, among other cities. With a background and political philosophy and architecture, Baumflek is currently pursuing a dual MFA/MS at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

This exhibit is sponsored, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and through the generous support of the following: The New York City Economic Development Corporation, The Greenwall Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the members of the Artists Alliance Incorporated.