Cigarette lighter. Beautiful. Gum wrapper. Jesus Christ. Pigs.

Brent Garbowski

Brent Garbowski

Cigarette lighter. Beautiful. Gum wrapper. Jesus Christ. Pigs.
Brent Garbowski
April 2 - May 7, 2016

1977. The Purple Sage apartment complex. It’s morning, or mid morning, or noon. Hard to tell in the California desert which looks a lot like Texas. Deserts are like that. If you miss the rise, it’s all just sun, bright and hot. Edgar’s skimming the pool. Typically a morning activity, but Edgar seems the type not to get out of bed before noon. The pool water is pristine. You can see clear to the bottom to the fresco of struggling Art Nouveau she-daemons.

Edgar’s listing the items he’s catching in his net. It’s only half audible, automatic, a direct picture of what is playing out in his hungover brain. He names them and reacts to them.

The surface tension in Robert Altman’s 3 Women is taut. The division between this and that threatens to wash back on itself and blur everything. But the waves are more like those between oil and water. They slosh back and forth but never mix.


n. the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist—the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same closeup of an eye—which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself.

-John Koenig The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Doesn’t matter if the thing is common or cheap when viewed in a context that compares to historical precedence. Some images wield power despite familiarity when we’re looking at the real thing. We look in awe at the setting of the sun, vacuous calendar reproductions be damned. The beach automatically bumps up the awe factor and the schlock factor at the same time. Brent Garbowski dares to look and then snap such a photo against all likelihood that it will land anywhere but the pile of the numbing mundane. There is wonder at stake, and maybe even a glimpse at Jesus. Brent could win the spiritual megamillions, get us to join him in that view, that communion, and bathe in the brilliant ocean of heat and light. Or he could just let his ass get in the way. His moon as the moon. His door of a body versus soulful window eyes. 

Is there a gulf between an absent body and its spirit? Brent has already been to the mountaintop and yet he is still unsure. He is bringing us back what was carved in stone. Maybe we will all see together.

Included is a recent collaboration with Joesph Mault.