"Jim Goldberg has been exhibiting for over 30 years and his innovative use of image and text make him a landmark photographer of our times. He began to explore experimental storytelling and the potentials of combining image and text with Rich and Poor (1977-85), where he juxtaposed the residents of welfare hotel rooms with the upper class and their elegantly furnished homes to investigate the nature of American myths about class, power, and happiness. In Raised by Wolves (1985-95), he worked closely with and documented runaway teenagers in San Francisco and Los Angeles to create a book and exhibition that combined original photographs, text, home movie stills, snapshots, drawings, diary entries as well as single and multi-channel video, sculpture, found objects, light boxes and other 3-D elements.
His book, Open See (2003-2010), tells the story of refugees, immigrants, and trafficked individuals journeying from their countries of origin to their new homes in Europe. Open See remains within Goldberg’s multi-faceted and multimedia practice by using diverse formats to create a thickly interwoven, expressionistic narrative from many points of view.
Goldberg’s current project, Candy (2012-2015), layers archival materials, Super 8 film stills, and text from his childhood in New Haven with new photographs of its urban landscape and residents. The result is a twisting, multilayered exploration of American notions of aspiration and betrayal."
What I Think:
What I like about this work is that combination of image and text - Goldberg uses the words of his subject to give his visual message greater depth and create different and often opposing messages. The discord struck by the contrast of words and image, makes you question the truth of the reality being portrayed - you believe the words written, because they are presented by the subjects themselves, but this being at odds with the narrative of the photograph reminds us how easily fooled we can be by the photographer, our own preconceptions and what we consider to be important semiotics and signs within the structure of the image. The strength of Goldbergs work, is within the questions it raises, not only about the subject and the artist, but indeed of ourselves as the viewer/observer.
Photographer Owens series 'Suburbia' is a collection of photographs looking at middle class and consumerism - how they measure themselves against their various collections of material objects. These photographs are posed and intentional.
I like the play between words and image, I find that the text here compounds the image rather than contradicts, as it does in Goldberg's work. With Owens work i look at the image first and then feel reassured, 'right' by the text that goes with it. In Goldbergs work, I look to the text first so that I read the image without prejudging. I look for visual clues that back up the written word and feel at odds when i dont always find them. In this sense, I feel Goldbergs work is the stronger of the two because it more complicated to digest. In my own work, where I have been building up collections of audio recordings of people describing what they see in my photographs, I feel the contrast between each reading creates a similar sense - albeit in a more humorous way.