About the Exhibition
Born in 1971 in Atlanta, Georgia, Anthony Goicolea is a first-generation Cuban American artist now living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Employing a variety of media, Goicolea explores themes ranging from personal history and identity, to cultural tradition and heritage, to alienation and displacement. His diverse oeuvre encompasses digitally manipulated self-portraits, landscapes, and narrative tableaux executed in a variety of media, including black-and-white and color photography, sculpture and video installations, and multi-layered drawings on Mylar.
Best known for his powerful, and often unsettling, staged photographic and video works, Goicolea made his artistic debut in the late 1990s with a series of provocative multiple self-portrait images. These early works featured groups of young boys on the threshold of adolescence, acting out childhood fantasies and bizarre rituals of revelry and social taboo in highly staged domestic or institutional settings or dense, fairy-tale forests. Revealing a playful self-consciousness, they often consisted of complex composites of the artist himself, in all manner of poses and guises.
Soon thereafter, Goicolea garnered international attention with his ambiguous yet strangely compelling landscapes, ranging from dream-like woodland environments to vast, unforgiving urban and industrial wastelands. The artist has created several series of digitally composited topographies, often populated by bands of masked and uniformed schoolboys. In subsequent series, many of the images are devoid of human figures, although the landscape reflects an anonymous and increasingly tenuous human presence. In these works, primitive lean-tos and crudely constructed shanties coexist in an uneasy union with the technological vestiges of an industrialized society. Suggesting a world on the brink of obsolescence, these chilling images further cement the pervasive undercurrent of human alienation—from one another as well as the natural environment—that can be traced throughout the artist’s work.
Goicolea’s family immigrated to the United States in 1961, fleeing Cuba soon after Castro came to power. In a recent series of works, the artist trained his unflinching eye on his own personal history in mixed-media works exploring his roots and family heritage. These poignant, sometimes cinematic, images and installations are characterized by a fervent search for ancestral and social connections to a mythical homeland, Cuba—at once revealing nostalgia for a past that the artist never actually experienced, as well as a pronounced sense of cultural dislocation and estrangement.
Goicolea has exhibited widely in group and solo exhibitions at venues throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Goicolea’s work is held in many public collections, including those of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; as well as the Yale University Art Collection, New Haven, Connecticut; the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; and Telfair Museums. The artist, who grew up in the metropolitan Atlanta area, holds a B.A. in art history and a B.F.A. in drawing and painting, both earned at the University of Georgia, Athens. He received an M.F.A. in sculpture, with a minor in photography, from Pratt Institute of Art, New York, in 1996.
This exhibition is organized jointly by the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, and Telfair Museums, Savannah, in collaboration with 21c Museum, Louisville.