The starting point for VALERIA STREET was a frayed Kodak box of seven slides that fell off a shelf of collage materials in the studio of the filmmaker. Curious, she put them on a light box. The slides depicted a group of five men, staged around a conference table in a generic office setting, curtains closed. The men were looking down at a set of drawings or documents. At the center of the frame, in the middle of the table, was one man. He held a pen in his left hand. When the filmmaker looked through the lens of the camera, she saw that this man in the center was her father. She had no memory of when these slides came into her possession. They must have been in boxes of ephemera that she saved when her father died twenty years earlier.
In her recent films, she has been obsessed with unearthing possible and impossible narratives from photographs of strangers. Through re-contextualizing the images, reframing, reworking, layering with other materials and revealing or obscuring parts of the image, something emerges. Not knowing the history or context of the images, the filmmaker has been able to imagine and invent new ones. The challenge of VALERIA STREET was that she knew one of the men. She didn’t know the situation depicted or the other people around the table. She had never witnessed her father in a situation like this one. His world of work was a mystery. The photographs were awkward and artificial staged documentation or re-creation of some kind of presentation/signing of documents involving her chemical engineer father within a large petro-chemical company.
The situation at the table is a familiar one of male power: a group of men gathered to make decisions. The men were arranged around the documents like the disciples in the "Last Supper" or the guild members in Rembrandt’s painting, “Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild” or numerous iconic photographs of presidential cabinets, boards of directors or chambers of commerce.
“The interplay of filmic layers [in Geiser’s work] creates a complex aesthetic of collage, a term borrowed from art history but also used in cinema to describe the collage film or, more generally, the principle of montage. The collagist structures of Geiser’s re-photography films engage critical issues of surface, space and film history in distinctly hauntological terms which, following Derrida, constitute an aberrant space, wholly other, infinite and ungraspable.” —Genevieve Yue