Jim Goldberg: Two Stories
December 16, 2004–January 29, 2005
32 East 57th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY
Pace/MacGill is pleased to announce an exhibition featuring two bodies of work, "Rich and Poor" and "Another Story," by Jim Goldberg. Consisting of 20, 14 x 11" gelatin silver prints, "Rich and Poor" examines the myths and realities of wealth and poverty in America. First exhibited in 1984 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Goldberg's series depicts representatives from upper and lower socio-economic classes paired with handwritten statements by the pictures' subjects. The relationships between the series' photographs both reinforce and upset the stereotypes attached to those leading financially privileged versus destitute lives. Exhibited for the first time, "Another Story" is Goldberg's visual and written chronicle of his own life. Presented as a diary-scrapbook hybrid, the series incorporates photographs and writings marking momentous occasions in Goldberg's personal history including his wedding, the birth of his children, and birthdays. Goldberg authors the series' format and creates a transparent, autobiographical and narrative object guided by memory and souvenirs from actual events.
It is, in fact, Goldberg's ongoing interest in people and their position within society that largely inspires and informs his work. Debuting 20 years ago at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as a part of the group exhibition "Three Americans (Robert Adams, Jim Goldberg and Joel Sternfeld)," Goldberg's "Rich and Poor" series originated from two independent, yet conceptually related, series. Begun in 1977, the "Poor of San Francisco" and the "Privileged of San Francisco" addresses the question: What does it mean to be rich or poor in the United States? Under Goldberg's watch, the series accents the relevancy of politically charged and socially conscious work. It also testifies to the powerful ability of the photographic medium to address broad, cultural issues with a personal cast.
Goldberg's use of images supplemented by text enables a study of physical and psychological dimensions. By conflating his subjects' exterior and interior identities, Goldberg achieves an insightful portrait. Goldberg also explores the relationship between the photographer and the photographed by inviting his subjects to participate in the picture making process by contributing their own statements of self-critique. As a result, Goldberg's work is a function of the trust he establishes with his subjects, and his rapport with them leaves it unclear as to who has the last word. In his new work, "Another Story," the third party is eliminated altogether, and Goldberg focuses on giving his own experience a visual voice. Goldberg revisits the complex dynamic between fact and fiction by creating a document hinging on memory, a phenomenon widely understood as being a product of the two. In the Afterword to "Rich and Poor" Goldberg confides: "I always wanted to be somebody else." He also writes: "I became not just the photographer but an editor, with the capacity of shaping and revising ... stories." In light of these statements, one wonders how Goldberg has chosen to represent the evolutionary shifting of his own identity.
Jim Goldberg's (b.1953) ongoing engagement of marginalized social groups and sub-cultures, his willingness to document difficult subject matter, and his landmark use of image and text have positioned him as one of today's most influential, yet under-recognized, photographers. An heir to such social documentarians as Walker Evans and Robert Frank, Goldberg's work buttresses Frank's opinion that "the truth is somewhere between the documentary and the fictional." Educated at Western Washington University (B.A., 1975) and the San Francisco Art Institute (M.F.A., 1979), Goldberg's work has been exhibited in the United States and abroad for 25 years. His numerous grants and awards include three National Endowment for the Arts awards (1980,1989,1990), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1985), the Ernst Haas Award for Photography Book of the Year (1995), and a Wallace A. Gerbode Foundation Grant (1997). Goldberg has received critical acclaim for his prize-winning books such as Rich and Poor (Random House, 1988), Raised by Wolves (Scalo, 1995) and Hospice: A Photographic Inquiry (Bulfinch, 1996). A member of the Magnum photo agency, Goldberg's most recent project focuses on the diverse immigrant communities in Athens, Greece, and was published as a part of the portfolio "Periplus" (Magnum, 2004). Goldberg resides in San Francisco, California.