Saturday, 24 May 2014

Book Review - Jim Goldberg: Raised by Wolves

I first saw this book on Goldberg’s website as a video that provides a much more visually interesting online version of the book compared to that of a standard downloadable PDF, that many artists offer. I have now loaned the book out from the library and it is larger than I thought it would be, slightly bigger than A4. It has a fantastic handwritten list of the ‘Cast of Characters’ that play roles in Goldbergs’ compilation of images and text. It then opens out to the first image in the book (as seen on the right) a heavy vignette frames it to look almost like binoculars. A very moody opening that also holds elements of nostalgia and creates a definite time period as a prelude to the work that follows.

 The book then leads straight into a chilling story about child abuse from a friend of Jims and film stills from home movies. You then flick through the images that you think might be related to the story but there is no certainty of this. Then the next story with Echo, the daughter of the woman in the first story. These stories and images give you a basis to put your emotions on, he makes you react and feel for these characters by giving them a back story.

His way of placing images on unconventional backgrounds, makes the images pop off the page, it highlights them and plays with the photograph. The use of colour to play off the black and white imagery. His Polaroid of Echo on a black page is something I will explore in the production of my own book. Playing with coloured pages to bring a playfulness to the work that can sometimes lack when using a traditional white background. His use of handwritten text with his photographs, not only adds to the story but also to the authenticity of the work. Something I seek to do within my own book is to represent my brothers truth and also my own.

The page to the left is an example of how black and white and colour photographs can work together and bring out each other’s strengths when next to each other. This will be an important component within my own book, as I have a mix of colour and B&W imagery within the series. It is actually one of the only stand alone colour images in the book, this anonymous character with his eyes blacked out. I have found that I was more immersed in the text within the book rather than the images, the conversations Goldberg has with these runaway children are filled with sadness and frustration that he cannot help them. The characters he tells us about: Echo, Tweeky Dave and a few others, are the subjects in his photographs and they make the writing feel more real. So in this short amount of time reading this book I felt towards the end this heart wrenching sadness for these people and their lives. I think that was the point, that was what Goldberg wanted to do. I think he cared a lot about these kids and I think this book is a great tribute to them. One of the few photobooks to have made such an impact on me. 

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