Artist David Brandon Geeting schools us on the power of the powerless by pairing the uncomfortable and the unexpected
“If I'm 100 per cent confident about what I've created, it's going in the trash.” That’s David Brandon Geeting’s mantra. A photographer, Geeting specialises in the kind of still life imagery that would make anyone with OCD a little twitchy. By pairing the odd, the everyday and the ‘that really shouldn’t be together’, Geeting shuns the aesthetically pleasing for the abstract and uncomfortable. His just-released book Infinite Power spans the past three years of the Brooklyn-based artist’s work. A self-described “complex collection of nothing,” the tome is populated with images of feet dialling phones, garden cherubs gazing into white bread, and plastic bags wearing shades with charming (and practical) titles such as, "Garlic Belt," "Rainbow Mug with Lenses and Asparagus," and "Statue Bread". Below, we spoke with Geeting about toothbrushes with feelings, making meaning and shutting off.
Could you tell me about the construction of your images? Is there a big thought and planning process behind them or is it more 'in the moment,' as such?
David Brandon Geeting: It all depends on the image, really. Sometimes I'll have an idea in the middle of the night and jot it down, and it will take me another month to get around to making it. But my favourite images come from almost a blank headspace where things just seem to fall into place – where it almost feels like someone else is making them for me. It feels like luck but I also don't believe in luck so it's hard to figure it out. So really I work in two drastically different modes – thinking too much and not thinking at all. Whenever I fall anywhere in between those modes, that's when I make my worst work.
What is it that interests you so much about the everyday and the banal? A cucumber, some streamers, a placemat...
David Brandon Geeting: It's just all I know. And I have no right to make work about what I don't know – I don't think anyone does really. Then it's insincere, right? I was also one of those kids that thought everything had feelings. I saved my toothbrushes in a secret envelope until age 12, 'cause how was I about to kill something that I kissed every morning and every night? It's weird what humans choose to care and not care about.
“Nothing in life is devoid of meaning. But to sit here and tell you that my process relies on something other than gut feelings – that would be a lie” – David Brandon Geeting
Are you inspired by anyone – still photographers, artists or any art movement in particular?
David Brandon Geeting: Not at the moment, I try to shut myself off from art when making work. I'm super influenced by my surroundings and because of that, I tend to create based on what I see. So I don't wanna bite anyone by accident. I like being uninformed about art so that way I only end up referencing myself or non-art-related stuff I do, like going to the bodega and getting a beer that's expired, or trying to cook a meal and burning it by accident, or buying a toy for my cats that they don't like, or putting on socks with holes on each big toe.
I've read that you gave up trying to give your work meaning and started to make work about your 'boring' life as a 22-year-old instead. Would you say your work is devoid of meaning altogether?
David Brandon Geeting: In that interview I was referring to the work I was making while getting my bachelor's in photography at SVA. Art school is strange because they praise students who know what their work is about and shun students who don't. So you end up making stuff up – you end up convincing yourself your work is about something that just looks good on paper. I don't trust an artist who can fully tell me what his/her work is about. In order for the work to actually be good, it has to be smarter than you. And to answer your question about whether or not my work is devoid of meaning altogether – no, because nothing in life is devoid of meaning. But to sit here and tell you that my process relies on something other than gut feelings – that would be a lie.
Lastly, could you tell us what inspired the title of this book – Infinite Power?
David Brandon Geeting: Infinite Power is the title of the image with the three power strips plugged into one another. I guess it's contradictory because they aren't plugged into any power source, so really they are "infinitely powerless." I think the book, in a way, shines a spotlight on things that are otherwise insignificant. It's an exercise in trying to understand the power of the powerless.