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Janet Borden and her eponymous gallery have been a mainstay of the photographic gallery scene in New York City since the 1980s. After over 3 decades in SoHo Manhattan, a new space in DUMBO offers Brooklyn a steady stream of fine art photography exhibitions with a unique flare. Representing young talent such as David Brandon Geeting and legendary figures like Martin Parr, an eclectic, witty quirkiness on view in the galleries’ latest exhibition, The Fall Classic, offers a bit of delight amidst the pandemic blues. We reached out to Borden to ask how her business is doing and what’s currently on view.
Work by Fred Cray in the exhibition The Fall Classic
DUGGAL ART SCENE: Were you able to continue remotely with business as usual over the last six months or did you have to make some adjustments?
JANET: It certainly is not business as usual. For the first few months, it seemed too intrusive and irrelevant to be yammering about art to people, when we were so busy worrying about the pandemic. Now that we're back, everyone says they're delighted to see actual art, rather than viewing rooms and virtual exhibitions.
For me, it’s not very successful or satisfying seeing work online. The mediated image is different. It’s stepped on each time it’s reproduced, whether in a book, or online, or in jpeg form. A fine art print is quite different from a book. This is an unpopular opinion among all the photobook lovers, but that's why I'm a gallerist and not a publisher.
We have made many adjustments during the shutdown and now in the reopening. Masks and social distancing are easy, but not having openings is sad. We try to connect through social media, just to maintain a presence, reminding people that we’re here. We have great interactions with people online, and there is good writing there. But as I said, I think the art looks inconsequential on the screen. For us, talking to and seeing our clients is key to the relationship. So, we invite everyone to stop in!
Work by David Brandon Geeting in the exhibition The Fall Classic
DUGGAL ART SCENE: Tell us about the IRL (in real life) re-launch of Janet Borden, Inc. with the exhibition, The Fall Classic? What inspired the exhibition, at this moment in particular?
JANET: We’re extremely happy to welcome people back IRL. This exhibition is to remind them of some of our artists’ ideas and viewpoints. All of the artists have been working during the shutdown, so there are some amazing new pieces, along with some classics. We had the opportunity to go through many images, and we have selected a wonderful group of pictures that interact with each other.
Work by S.B. Walker in the exhibition The Fall Classic
DUGGAL ART SCENE: Included in The Fall Classic is Martin Parr, one of your gallery artists. Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with him over the years and what attracts you to his work?
JANET: Martin Parr is an extraordinary artist. He is a very astute documentary photographer, who manages to make his wildly complex pictures appear extempore. He has been consistently on point tracking contemporary life through five decades. The work is funny, biting, and yet not mean-spirited. I truly believe he has changed the way people see the world through photography. I haven't thought that about anyone else since Lee Friedlander.
Work by Neil Winokur in the exhibition The Fall Classic
DUGGAL ART SCENE: You’ve been in business since 1988. What advice do you have for both artists and young gallerists in terms of longevity, weathering rough patches and creating a sustainable business?
JANET: Go to business school!
IMAGE HEADER: Installation view of the exhibition The Fall Classic featuring work by Martin Parr
The Fall Classic is on view through 11/14/20. Janet Borden, Inc. is located at 91 Water Street, Brooklyn, New York in DUMBO. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 11-5, www.janetbordeninc.com.