David Brandon Geeting, Neighborhood Stroll @Janet Borden

JTF (just the facts): A total of 30 color photographs, generally framed in white and unmatted (the smallest prints are matted), and hung against white walls in the main gallery space. All of the works are digital chromogenic prints, made in 2019. Physical sizes range from roughly 6×5 to 60×45 inches, and all of the prints are available in editions of 3. (Installation shots below.)

A monograph of this body of work was recently published by Skinnerboox (here) and Same Paper (here). Hardcover with foldout poster, 300 pages, with 285 color reproductions (with 2 on glossy paper.) Includes an essay by Peter Sutherland. In an edition of 1000 copies. Designed by Studio Lin. (Cover shot below.)

Comments/Context: For those feeling overwhelmed by the claustrophobic distractions and stresses of our increasingly digital life, the recuperative power of a mind clearing, fresh air breathing walk seems to be having a surprisingly widespread moment of rediscovery. As much as we can be seduced by the attractions of our increasingly electronic existence, we need to leave it behind now and again and get out into the real world to recharge our ability to see, think, and pay close attention.

In a parallel way, for photographers hemmed in by interior-located and computer-facing creative processes, a walk outside can provide a restorative counterbalance to days filled with in-studio construction and software manipulation. And so for the better part of the past three years, David Brandon Geeting has intermittently left the studio and wandered the streets of his neighborhood in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, gathering images of the visual eccentricities and chance arrangements he found there. His newest project, Neighborhood Stroll, takes shape as both a hefty photobook and a more tightly edited gallery show, and offers us an opportunity to see how his foot-powered photographic vision has been evolving.

Geeting’s early career was rooted in playing with the aesthetics of commercial photography. In his photobook Infinite Power (from 2015, reviewed here), he made set ups that were brightly lit and crisply seen, but explored the dissonance of optimistic fun and uneasy visual confusion. And in a previous gallery show (in 2018, reviewed here), Geeting went deeper into these tabletop constructions, using clear Plexiglas to create layers of disorienting visual conflict and juxtaposition.

In Neighborhood Stroll, Geeting takes that same eye for composition and applies it to fleeting observations and uncontrolled discoveries. Many of his most straightforward finds turn on an unlikely inversion – a feather between two rocks, a Stop sign with a rainbow flare, a smiling face scribbled on a stone pillar. Other images transform garbage into found still lifes, like a Budweiser can nestled in among yellow flowers and a plastic cup lid washed up against some crusty ice in a red-tinged watery runoff. Even bagged vegetables are worth a second look, as the obscuring condensation seems to imply a moment of suffocation.

The urban streets of New York are filled with fences, stoops, railings, barriers, and other space-dividing constructions, and Geeting’s eye is consistently drawn to both their patterns and how they come between the viewer and something in the background. Shown here as a grid of small prints, these pictures make the most of chain link, corrugated tin, decorative iron, and wooden latticework, following their cast shadows and using their angles and repetitions to enliven improvised color studies.

Geeting’s photographs get more memorable when he applies some of the layered visual alchemy he brews up in the studio to his sidewalk discoveries. He makes particular magic with printed advertising and the posters and vinyl decals that decorate walls and bodega storefronts, creating uneasy picture within a picture relationships. A blue box of lasagna noodles is interrupted by leaves and greenery, a cup of coffee and a turkey sandwich peel away from the wall underneath a jumble of tea boxes, and a red bottle of Arizona raspberry iced tea jostles with a cardboard box of Corona beer bottles, in each case, the nested imagery disrupting our sense of which things are actually real.

Two of the most sophisticated compositions in the show take this deliberate visual uncertainty the furthest. One plays with the shadow cast by an ice formation found on a windowsill, the insistent horizontals of the window, the light green siding, and the ledge made puzzling by the rippled shadow of the ice. The other flattens a shelf full of succulent plants into a dizzying tangle, with additional paintings of plants, an orange mop handle, a yellow peg board, and an intruding blur of floral blossoms all collapsed in to one integrated spatial conundrum. In compositions like these, Geeting shows off his ability to wrestle with complexity, reframing overlooked randomness into something perplexingly elegant.

While many younger photographers explore the quirks of found oddities, when Geeting brings the full power of his repurposed commercial techniques to bear, his pictures of these subjects pop with unique brightness and verve. A few of the works here are essentially too easy (the blue bagged newspaper, for example), and as a result, they lack the punch and cleverness we have come to expect from a Geeting photograph. As he continues his city wanderings, Geeting should challenge himself to make the most outlandishly overstuffed, elegantly mystifying, and playfully incomprehensible compositions he can, as this is where he durably separates himself from the pack.

Collector’s POV: The prints in this show range in price from $650 to $4800, based on size. Geeting’s work has little secondary market history at this point, so gallery retail remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.

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Read more about: David Brandon Geeting, Janet Borden Inc., Skinnerboox

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