Open See is Jim Goldberg’s ongoing project about displaced peoples from the regions of Eastern Europe, Africa, and India—the refugees, immigrants, and trafficked individuals—who hope to make a better life for themselves in Western Europe. Leaving behind war, disease, and economic devastation, they often struggle to find a place within their adopted countries—while Europe, in turn, struggles to adapt to them. Aware of the tendency of photojournalism to create a spectacle of suffering—and in the process desensitize its audience—Goldberg strives to create the conditions for an active engagement with his images.
Not wanting to speak on behalf of the people he photographs, Goldberg invites his subjects to participate in the making of his work. Presented on street-level advertising units, each of the artist’s Polaroid images features a drawing or message handwritten on it; each person photographed conveys their own story in the manner of their choosing. Goldberg’s subjects are given a public voice, the inscriptions adding layers of meaning to create images that are multifaceted. What results is a form of documentary storytelling that produces a dynamic relationship between subject, artist, and viewer. Supplying geographic grounding and a collective scope, large-format billboards feature dramatic views of a crowd of refugees and a makeshift encampment. Situated within an increasingly dense zone of condominium development at Front and Spadina, the installation challenges the passersby to consider the lives of people who are often overlooked.
Supported by Pattison Outdoor Advertising.
Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein