Talent _ Keegan Grandbois
Text by Ella Lu Wolf
There is something about the photographs of San Diego-born and Brooklyn-based Keegan Grandbois that won’t let you go. Exploring the landscape of American pop culture, his carefully composed images of deserted urban architecture or odd arrangements of everyday objects are intriguingly beautiful – and at the same time contain an irritating flavor of threat. It is their suggestive character, their in-between state that renders them extremely emotional. In his pictures, Grandbois manages to frame situations on the border of presence and absence, of attraction and repulsion. When looking at his photographs of knifes or flower wallpapers you feel like you understand something about the culture we live in, but putting this into words seems impossible. Maybe it is exactly this denial of coherence that makes Grandbois’ pictures feel remarkably contemporary – although their aesthetic might remind you of movie stills or your family’s photo album.
When I moved to the middle of New Hampshire in 11th grade my elective choices were limited… and ever since it’s been a medium I’ve been active in. Since moving to Brooklyn and having limited resources, I’ve been kind of forced to focus on it more.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Commercial photography (especially 50-70’s food photography), Marshall Mcluhan, the 90’s (or my childhood life), and everything that’s goin’ on.
What kind of situations are you looking for when taking photographs on a trip or journey?
Unusual, odd, and the structures/situations that are in-between or connecting larger parts of the big picture of our day to day life.
Is your work political? Do your images contain cultural criticism?
Because the content tends to lean towards the familiar it has the quality of provoking criticism, but I try not to make that a part of the work. The way pop culture is it’s own entity, bigger than the songs/celebrities/images that make it, but something that people interact with on an individual level. I try to work with that relationship.
What does authenticity in photography mean to you?
What attracts you to the aesthetic of pop culture and kitsch?
Other than the general attractiveness of things, I think it’s an aesthetic that can connect with people of a wider range and it is an important one, too. The relationship that it plays in everyday life is significant and deconstructing/appropriating it helps me understand it better. It’s important to try and grasp what’s happening on some level when it comes to things that directly interface with our lives instead of just taking them for granted.
Is there a reason why you prefer to photograph still lifes and abandoned urban landscapes instead of people?
It’s always something I’ve focused on less. As I mentioned earlier, it’s the in-between, the connecting spaces that I find valuable to explore and people are more of the bigger parts in life.
Are your works ironic?
I don’t think so, any irony that may come through would be from some object association and not something I’ve constructed myself.
Are your works nostalgic?
Not in the sense that I long for the past, but there is a definite aspect of a lot of my work that is about exploring the past personally and culturally. This is more of an exploratory tactic relating to understanding the relationship I mentioned earlier.
What projects do have coming up?
I’m expanding my still life series that’s been in the works and I’ve been working on a book that uses text, photography, and graphic elements to form a kind of loose autobiographical narrative.