Tag Archives: Jim Goldberg

Assignment 4 – Tutor Feedback

Because I was on holiday in Mexico when my tutor was trying to set up a Skype meeting and not knowing what kind of internet connection I would have, I asked her to give me a written report instead.

My responses are in italics.

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

This is a playful and engaging project, which responds solidly to the brief and is contextualised through relevant research material. The work is also poignant, in terms of the time it has been made – I’m thinking namely Trump, and the refugee crisis, and Canada’s open arms. There is real merit here. Your idea is strong, yet – and I’m so sorry to write this – your visual approach needs a further push before assessment. Currently the aesthetic is an emulation of Gillian Wearing’s ‘Signs That Say…  

I believe I had explained my use of Wearing’s Signs under “Demonstration of Creativity” in my assignment write up. Wearing did not have a consistent typology for her subjects in her project. Her framing varies from full body shots to three-quarter body shots to half body shots, from having one subject in the frame to having two, whereas my project has a more uniform aesthetic. I also don’t believe that Wearing has sole proprietaryship on photographs with signs as similar images have long been used in advertising (see Bic Pens) as well as photojournalism (protests and marches). Other photographers, as pointed out in Steve Middlehurst’s blog, such as Grace Brown (giving voice to sexual assault victims); Kiyun Kim (racial comments) have also incorporated the use of signs in their work, and succeeded in putting their own stamp on their work.

To use that much-despised phrase – ‘you need to find your own voice’.

I do believe my personal voice is beginning to emerge – it will take work and thought, but it won’t happen overnight and I don’t believe it can be forced. To quote Clive White (article on the Discussion Forum, available here https://discuss.oca-student.com/t/personal-voice/3047/13) : “It means making the work about something that’s personally driven, other than technique or formal qualities. It’s about finding your themes through reflecting on the work one’s making in a way that looks at meaning rather than colour palette, composition, line and mark making, etc. ” I have over the Context & Narrative and this module made work that touches on immigration aspects and diversity within communities so I do feel something is emerging.

You can make this project your own through further visual experimentation. It could simply mean removing/photographing your subjects without the signs and using their comments in another way. The comments on the signage are playful, amusing and speak of ‘culture shock’. I particularly enjoyed the young woman holding the sign that reads: ‘It’s common to say yes to sex’, the term ‘NEVER’ (in caps) printed on her t-shirt, hangs below the sign. What happens to the reading of the photographs when the signs are removed (either digitally) or shot without them holding them? Do the statements become captions? Or is it enough to have ‘Falvio from Brazil (Honeymoon phase)’ written underneath?

After getting some more feedback on the Critique Forum I am going to remove the categorising caption below the photograph so that the photos are left more open to individual interpretation.

You may find the series Divided by the Sea by James Russell Cant of interest.

Cant writes:

Using the sea and the tide as metaphors, Divided to the Ocean considers the divisions of time, place and self, as well as the potential for melancholy, inherent in the process of migration. These portraits of individuals who have migrated to England by sea are composites, palimpsests of 24 images made over a period of time punctuated by high water. The subsequent backgrounds are the seascapes of the waters they crossed on their arrival. Ebbing and flowing, the sea both connects and divides the subjects from their land of origin.

I did look at this work and found it interesting. However it is easier to use a single metaphor using the sea and the tide for an immigration theme than it is for culture shock. I did not have the luxury of knowing what the student was going to write on his/her paper ahead of time and as you can see from the written statements they are all over the map really.

I am interested in the use of his environment. Can you make more of the place in which you photograph your subjects? How is this place relevant to them? Is it shot on the university campus? Could you be more explicit by showing us more of the context? Perhaps shoot in a landscape format? You are commended for the consistency of your images. The images are well framed and well lit.

I chose to shoot on the sidewalk because this is the path that all students take to the university. The university is a city campus, located in one building, there are no outdoor spaces belonging to it. When I did the shoot I did do landscape as well as portrait shots (some are on my contact sheets), but found that the landscape shots didn’t really add anything to image – basically just more windows/walls and parked cars were added which didn’t change the context I felt.

Also, the use of text in Jim Goldberg’s photographs maybe a useful research point. He uses the handwriting of his subjects directly on his photographs.

I did have a look at Jim Golberg’s work, both in this module as well as in Context and Narrative. I would have to ask the question if I were to use Goldberg’s method of having the subjects write on the photograph, wouldn’t I again be accused of emulating someone’s work?


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

You are working through the coursework and evidencing it on your blog. Well done.


Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You evidence your research and analysis on your blog. Well done.

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Navigable and evidences your learning journey.

Suggested reading/viewing


Please research the practitioners mentioned above.

I will do a write up on James Russell Cant. Jim Goldberg I have already covered in my work.

My Further Reflections

I have decided, based on the subsequent feedback that I received on the Critique Forum I am not going to reshoot this assignment, but will substitute a couple of images and add another two.

The series works very well, though I am unsure about the categorisation captioning, it’s as if this is a selection from a much wider body of work – a taster perhaps.

What I do like is that the idea plays into my conception of racial stereotyping, it asks me to question my own prejudices. And that, above all, is the strength of the work. Great concept, very nicely delivered. [John]

I don’t think the categorisation adds anything though. The strength for me is bringing my own interpretations to the images, they lead to more questions, both of myself and my own preconceptions and also thoughts about the people depicted – their backgrounds, interests, motivations etc. What initially appear as neutral expressions start to take on potential deeper meanings. [MichaelM]

As mentioned above I will be removing the categorisation caption.

I think you missed a trick here, the ‘distracting action’ could have been incorporated taking it to a different place from Wearing’s work, actually enriching the imagery.

It’s a Level 1 course so I think you’d be given a bye on it being a familiar trope but with less of an attachment to the original visual concept and moving it along it could have engendered admiration.

Having said all that I think it will be still well received so no cause for you to be concerned or rework just bear it in mind for next time … [Clive]

I have taken Clive White’s suggestion to include some of the homeless elements that I had previously discarded and have added a couple of images that reflect this.

First, I was wondering about your consciously staging set. Similar as possible with less ‘distraction’. I think you did very well by reducing contextual varieties and therefore to leave more space for the viewer to imagine and to relate to. Although, while reading about the ‘homeless shelter’ I found your editing is ‘shutting down’ opportunities. I understand the intention to keep focus. But I can also further relate the notion of ‘home’ to your subject matter ‘culture shock’ as well as the clear notion of the new home for the students. You stated clearly that it is about those way moved for longer or perhaps for life. I personally feel this huge difference, staying at one place for weeks or months, versus staying for several years or longer. Finding a new home. In this context the ‘home-ness’ versus ‘home-less’ and relating to the expression by the two students ‘homeless sleeping in the streets’ and ‘here it’s an individualist society’ could be a quite different subject matter. [Stefan]

Good feedback that echoes Clive’s sentiments.

Reference List

Brown, G (n.d.) Project Unbreakable [online] Available at: http://projectunbreakable.tumblr.com/ [Accessed 16 July, 2017]

Follow up Critique for Assignment 4 Identity and Place [online] OCA Discussion Forum. Available at: https://discuss.oca-student.com/t/follow-up-critique-for-assignment-4-identity-and-place/5101 [Accessed 16 July, 2017]

Jackson-Edwards, P (2016) ‘It’s a miracle!’ Female workers ridicule Bic’s pink pens ‘For Her’ with sarcastic hand-written messages – while a man can only produce squiggles [online] Daily Mail. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3484499/Female-workers-ridicule-Bic-s-pink-pens-sarcastic-hand-written-messages-man-produce-squiggles.html#ixzz4n2ZpCnps [Accessed 16 July, 2017]

Pinar (2013) Racial Comments Heard by Teenagers on a Daily Basis [online] My Modern Met. Available at: http://mymodernmet.com/kiyun-kim-racial-microaggressions/ [Accessed 16 July, 2017]


Jim Goldberg

This is my second look at some of Jim Goldberg’s work, the first being during Context and Narrative (see posting here where I reviewed Open See).

In Raised by Wolves, Goldberg’s narrative takes on many forms: “a traveling art gallery exhibit, a book, a website, and an experience. All of these radically different modes of narrative function to tell the same story” (American SuburbX).  The video (which might be the website mention previously) is a cacophony of sounds and images. Reminiscent of old scratchy movies of the 1950’s, the images scan so quickly across the screen that they merge into one another before being blacked out. The subjects themselves talk over the sound of traffic and city bustle, sometimes audible, sometimes not. Somehow the video reminded me a little of news footage I had seen of the holocaust camps during World War II. There was a similar tone and chaoticness attached.

The book is quieter. One has the time to read and study and digest the narrative. The accompanying text seems to be in different handwritings, probably written by the subjects themselves, hastily scribbled and carelessly crossed out. Like the Open See the subjects have written their own story which makes the work less objective. According to American SuburbX Raised by Wolves book version has a blend of photos and video stills. The text is a mixture of handwritten notes and letters and transcripts of conversation between the photographer and the subjects. The project is done in a photojournalistic style.

From the article I have read in American SuburbX I feel it would be a disservice to provide commentary on the book without having looked at it in detail. Sadly it is not available at the Vancouver Public Library. From what I can glean on the internet the work appears to be very edgy, gritty and brutally honest, with quite a bit of shock value attached.

Reference List

The ASX Team (2009) Jim Goldberg’s ‘Raised By Wolves’ as a Non-Fictional Multi-Media Narrative [online] American SuburbX. Available at: http://www.americansuburbx.com/2009/11/theory-raised-by-wolves-as-non.html [Accessed 13 April, 2017]

Goldberg, Jim (n.d.) Raised by Wolves [online] Available at: http://jimgoldberg.com/ [Accessed 13 April, 2017]

Goldberg, Jim (n.d.) Raised by Wolves [online] Magnum Photos. Available at: https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZHEN#/CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZHEN&POPUPIID=2K7O3R3RBWRU&POPUPPN=58 [Accessed 13 April, 2017]