At first glance, Rafael Goldchain’s photographs appear to be traditional family portraits from the early 20th century. However after closer inspection, we discover that our expectations have been surreptitiously subverted. The products of considerable research and conceptual rigour, Goldchain’s photographs are self-portraits: detailed reenactments of his familial and cultural history. They begin to take form as the artist poses for the camera in full costume and makeup. Using digital technology, he seamlessly manipulates DNA and history to present us with a gallery of rogues, beauties, geeks and philosophers. Looking at his avatars and digital revenants, we barely recognize the slightest trace of the self he has chosen to portray.
Connecting fragments of information gathered about the lives of his Eastern European Jewish grandparents and their families, while acknowledging the impossibility of reconciliation, I Am My Family reflects a way of both mourning and remembering. In a further act of transformation, as if to fill a great void of information, Goldchain has created additional members of a chosen family who are completely fabricated. Prompted by the artifice used in his invocation of bloodlines, we are left to ponder our collective history of fragments.