Memory is a strange thing. We celebrate it, repress it, lose it and sometimes obsess to keep it. It comes to us through music, smells, the weather, a story told at an awfully boring family gathering by a weird uncle you barely remember and is probably getting you mixed up with your snobby second cousin.
By combining two major elements of memory - photography and objects- Brooklyn based artist, Keegan Grandbois creates still life representations that are ubiquitously universal and perseveringly personal, triggering the nostalgic in a wonderful way.
Using his own belongings as the centerpiece for each of his compositions, and surrounding these with discarded personal objects found at places like thrift stores, Grandbois creates visual stories that precipitate with familiarity. From children’s toys to car fresheners, to old photos and Kate Bush tapes, his selection of materials playfully evokes our own experiences, putting big ol’ knowing grins on our faces. “I kind of see it as an exploration of a visual language that can be both very personal, yet widely available and the meaning an object can possess.”
I asked him to share one of these stories with us and he kindly responded:
“The still life titled 'Sol Duc Falls souvenir penny with Ring Pop' has a souvenir penny I got while in Washington for my grandfathers ash ceremony, paired with a ring-pop and those chalky valentines heart candies both of which I would eat until I felt sick when I was a kid, apple heads which are like just green apple lemon heads, and fake flowers which pop up in a lot of my stuff, I'm obsessed with them.”
The plastic plants are indeed a particularly interesting element in Gradnbois’ work. Fake flowers are like one of humanity’s most absurd attempts at conserving what is destined to disappear, not unlike memories themselves. “I like the concept of fake plants, the preservation of the idea of something that exists naturally, it's beautiful, weird, sad, and confusing, like a lot of things.”
“I was born in California, moved around on average at least once every year of my life, due to parents in military and then a mother who couldn't stay in one place too long.” If you were a kid who moved around a lot you are bound to have a little collection of treasured possessions that make no sense to the unknowing eye. Keegan Grandbois’s talent is turning memories into magic.
Words / Ana Gomides