An inattentive rummaging of David Buchler’s portraits of different people inside a commuter train evokes the plain – panels that chronicle a parade of imagery never unknown or new to anyone synchronous with the tide propelled from one point to the next and back. As pictured, engines are tasked to ferry the souls trapped in an urban revolving door: in between rows of the tired, the sleepy, and those already lulled to sleep by the mansuetude of the moving carriage.
David sublimates his position as passenger into a custodian of impulse and expression, as he deftly preserves the nuances of those who busy themselves with books, music, sweet treats, and introspective musings, among others. Rummaging further, complex ironies are revealed at the unmasking of an erstwhile banal collection that willfully retains its provocative and dangerously voyeuristic ipseity: the reach of personal reflection is never once hindered by the cramped spaces.
One such irony is the case an old man longingly gazing at a vista only he can see and only his mind can perceive. In this reverie, he finds comforting stillness amidst a sea of strangers, fidgeting and flinching in a dance to lord over their tiny dominions.
Taking the panels collectively, David ensnares the mundane moments everyone is trying to live through and be done with. And yet at the happenstance of displacement and vicissitude, he conjures up a clear view of what life has become, which will not change or cannot be denied even if the subjects are unwitting or defiant.
Amidst the reminder of one of the many tedious constant rigors of daily life, viewers of David’s work may posit: beyond the carriage’s linear path is a routine that has become limiting as it is cyclical, internalized, anticipated, and embraced. Branching out from the linear, the train commuters could have been hoodwinked and unknowingly were just simply going round and round, not just in boarding the carriage, but also in their daily lives.
After all, somewhere in that sea of strangers, someone could be listening to a classic Eagles opus, and unbeknownst to everyone, therein lies the caveat: you can ride any time you like, but you can never leave.