Jim Goldberg, Watching Oprah, Greece, 2004 © Jim Goldberg/ Magnum Photos.

Jim Goldberg, Open See, Greece, 2005 © Jim Goldberg/ Magnum Photos.

Documents of 'a Better Life' for Those Who Emigrate from Nations at War

Jim Goldberg, Alex, Greece, 2003 (c) Jim Goldberg/ Magnum Photos.

Jim Goldberg, Prized Possession, DRC, 2008 © Jim Goldberg/ Magnum Photos.


Keizersgracht 609
+31 (0)20 551 6500
Jim Goldberg – Open See
October 1-November 21, 2010

Goldberg’s work is characterised by a powerful sense of involvement with individuals on the margins of society. In his work, Goldberg explores complex social problems often using text as an essential part of his compositions. Open See records experiences of people who have left the war-torn social and economic chaos of their native country in the hope of building a better life in Europe. These "New Europeans," originally from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East often find themselves confronting a new kind of aggression and cruelty, yet continue to believe in a brighter future. Open See, the title, refers to the absence of borders on the open sea, in contrast to the national frontiers that still divide Europe, despite its so-called unification.

Goldberg examines different aspects of this complex subject using various mediums, such as Polaroids, video, diary fragments, objects and medium and large-format photos. Many of the photos are written on, coloured-in or scratched by the person portrayed. Together, the words and pictures form an intimate, fascinating story of the life of these people. The portraits are interspersed with landscapes of the countries from which they originate.

Jim Goldberg began his "New European"’ project in 2004, commissioned by Magnum Photo collective. This followed the Greek Olympic Games, when Goldberg explored the daily life of immigrants in Greece who had fled war, disease and poverty in their homeland. 

In 2007, Goldberg won the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award. This enabled him to finance trips to the countries that the migrants had left and to view the circumstances that had prompted them to make their journey. That is how Open See came about, in which Goldberg expands his focus to look at immigration and human trafficking in other European countries.

In the tradition of documentary photographers such as Walker Evans and Robert Frank, Goldberg seeks to photograph people and their social position. He began experimenting with combinations of words and pictures in his now classic series Rich and Poor (1977-1985), which looks at the differences in America’s class system. In Raised by Wolves (1985-1995) Goldberg documented a group of homeless boys in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Goldberg’s work has appeared in numerous venues, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum in New York and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, the Photographers’ Gallery in London and Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris. Goldberg has received many prizes and awards, including the 2007 HVB Award, the Aftermath Project Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Hasselblad Award. Goldberg lives in San Francisco and teaches at California College of Arts and Crafts. He is also known for his editorials in New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Dazed and Confused. Goldberg is represented by de Pace/McGill Gallery in New York and Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco.

Jim Goldberg, Current, Ukraine, 2006 © Jim Goldberg/ Magnum Photos.