• Interview, March 2014
Amid NoHo's grand apartment buildings and boutiques, Ugo Rondinone's 39 Great Jones gallery is an unexpected window into the world of art—literally. The whole of the show space takes up a single window. Here, Rondinone has, since 2010, been putting on bimonthly shows with work from the likes of John Giorno, Sam Falls, and Josh Smith. This month, an installation by culture writer and emerging artist David Colman fills the micro-space. Colman dabbled in art years ago, but it wasn't until a home-improvement project in 2010 that he rediscovered his inner visual artist. After painting his apartment, he decided to affix his belongings in creative arrangements over a fabric wall hanging. The concept stuck, and he soon found himself perusing sites like eBay for curios to mix and match as wall assemblages. Colman has since shown in several gallery shows and is expanding his oeuvre with performance: at 2013's Miami Art Basel, he dressed up as Santa Claus and took the "confessions" of art-goers. While the final ingredients for the window are still up in the air, he has been trying to acquire a taxidermic bald eagle. "I always fetishize visual things," says Colman. "I like to say that my work is so totally shallow it's perfect for a window." —Rachel Small
• On "The Cat Show" at White Columns, June 2013
"Ladies and Gentleman, cats and kitties, I give you a show that deserves to travel to every small museum and university gallery in the country: The Cat Show at White Columns; brilliantly curated by excellent writer Rhonda Lieberman. Go. See. Purr. Pine. The blue painting in this picture (a purrrfect painting the Whitney ought to snap up) is by B. Wurtz. There's a huge cat environment; there are scratching posts with fabric designed by Gerhard Richter; there's David Colman's assemblage straight from cat-nip modern-dada-formalist heaven; Marilyn Minter's pussy. Work by Lucky DeBellevue, Kathe Burkart, Jane Kaplowitz, Wayne Kostenbaum, Elizabeth Peyton, Patti Smith, Richard Prince, Matthew Barney, Kay Rosen, Mike Kelley, and many many more. And ... on Fridays and Saturdays they have the cutest little kitty-cats up for adoption. They've already placed seven cats. Go, and rub up against this show." — Jerry Saltz
• On "Santa Confessional" at Miami Basel — December 2013
New York Observer:
" Miami during Art Basel has gained a perhaps unmerited (but perhaps merited!) reputation for debauchery. This year, in addition to being a place at which to add to your roster of sins, it was also place to unburden yourself of some of them. In Collins Park (where the fair annually installs a sculpture park), within sight of Kate Gilmore’s strapping, shirtless (at least during the VIP event) performers, all of them noisily employing sledgehammers (WHAM!) to make sizable dents in sizable metal boxes (a maximalist attack on minimalism?), one could take refuge in the cool, quiet interior of the Collins Park rotunda, which at one time served as a theater for a nearby library, and which artist David Colman had, for Art Basel, transformed into his “Santa Confessional.” In Clausian robes (red and white, complete with stocking cap), he took confessions from all comers in a compact structure whose design was equal parts gingerbread house and confessional booth. (One person, he said, later, in his street clothes, confessed that she didn’t believe in God, which seemed to strike him as fairly banal.) And what better place for an ad-hoc confessional than directly across Collins Avenue from the W hotel, where any number of top dealers and collectors stay during the fair? During his confessions, Mr. Colman, as Father Christmas, was heard (because that was part of the point, if you got close enough, you could hear people’s confessions) to issue a dictum particularly appropriate to the atmosphere here: “The only message I have for everybody is, I don’t judge.” — Sarah Douglas
•Art in America:
"As if anticipating the guilt that might descend upon the throngs of wealthy art patrons and women in shoes whose cost would seem to surpass the GDP of many developing countries, Colman, based in New York, set up his Santa Confessional in the Rotunda, a circular structure surrounded by a moat at the northeast corner of the park. His helpful elves handed out "indulgences" to the partygoers, inviting them to unburden themselves to Colman, a.k.a. "Santa Sacramentum." These were a mockup of the U.S. dollar, with the inscription, "This note is holy tender. Good for one escape."
Entering the Rotunda, guests were instructed to wait in line for Santa, who occupied a confessional that was only partially enclosed. Each person who entered the confessional was asked the standard Santa question ("What do you want?") and the standard Catholic question ("What do you feel guilty about?"). Carrying the ritual through, Colman absolved the supplicants, adorning them with a brass pin and feeding them a breath mint instead of a communion wafer. — Paul David Young
• The Art Newspaper:
"Finally, there’s a way for Miami’s VIPs to expiate their sins before racking up new ones during the week of art fairs. At Art Basel’s annual welcome party on Tuesday night, the artist David Colman, dressed as St Nick, ran his “Santa Confessional” in the “North Pole Chapel”, AKA the Collins Park rotunda. The booth, which is reminiscent of a gingerbread house, is open on all sides, so all confessions are (gasp!) audible to any spectators who get close enough to hear. “The only message I have for everybody is, I don’t judge,” Colman could be heard saying during one confession."
On "ZIP" for Creative Time Gala — November 2014
• VICE — Creators Project:
""Hey, aren't you..." I ask a burly dude in a tactical turtleneck and black beret. Nope. He does, however, push the door open into the blocked-off room behind him—writer David Colman's experience-based exhibition, known only as Zip—and prevents my photographer from entering with me. I am given a paper script and asked to record a statement of consent on video while a female commando tells somebody to put their clothes back on. I catch a glimpse of my fellow examinee—fully nude—as she slides her socks back up her calves. I am ordered to remove my gloves, shoes, my shirt is pulled over my head and jumpsuit zipped down around my ankles. Before I can mind my own modesty I am naked, given a once-over, and told seconds later to put my clothes back on, just like that. As I leave I spy my photographer reading his consent statement. We link up outside, both palpably more comfortable at the party. Most of my inhibitions are gone, sloughed off like an invisible skin. Dustin Yellin's told he can't go in until he puts his clothes back on first." — Emerson Rosenthal
Pizza materialized by 1 AM, along with a pile of confetti. Rich girls changed into matching pajamas. The night was so exquisitely coordinated; it’s a shame no one danced. We did, however, find the action amid all the activities, in a small room manned by David Colman and a pair of TSA-style “officers.” Inside it was bright, and when our officer slipped on his blue latex gloves and took off our clothes, too slowly, until we had to stop (had to literally say “I insist that you stop”), we felt like we were playing at adults, which after all is the point of a sleepover." — Kaitlin Phillips and Sarah Nicole Prickett
• New York Observer:
"There was also the artist David Colman in NSA duds standing by a door marked “Zip.” He ushered us into a side room where we were told to choose between a male and a female NSA officer. We looked at the pile of used latex gloves. We chose the woman. We read aloud a disclaimer that doubled as the rules of the game—obey our officer or repeat “I insist you stop”—and then the make-believe NSA lady led us to a too-small plastic partition.
“Take off your shoes,” said our officer.
We obliged. Next, our jacket, then our sweater.
“Take off your skirt.”
“Take off your shirt.”
It was then that we noticed a gap in the curtains, revealing guests mingling outside.
“Take off your tights.”
“I insist you stop!”
Our wishes were thankfully heeded and we hurriedly redressed and rushed away. Afterward, Mr. Colman offered an explanation. “The point was not to get naked,” said the artist, who explained that it was an interactive installation called Zip by David Colman. “It was inspired by the NSA, and it was supposed to bring to life that position we find ourselves in where our privacy is being taken from us, and we are very ambivalent about it.’”
At least one person hadn’t found the striptease-as-political-statement too burdensome. Later on, Mr. Yellin was completely naked save a pair of slipping-down yellow boxers and green socks.
“I feel liberated!” he pronounced to us and all those in earshot." — Rachel Small
"All-American," 2013. Photo:Jonathan Grassi