It can sometimes be hard to see the appeal of art projects that draw on someone’s family archives. Why would a member of the public want to view a deluge of old baby photos or holiday snapshots that will mean far more to the people in the images than anyone engaging with the work as an objective spectator?
Jim Goldberg dispels any of these preconceptions with his new photo book, Coming and Going – a dense tome that translates his own personal milestones into a universal expression of life’s unpredictability.
The stamp of cinema can be felt across the book, from the collaged content pages that seem to resemble a DVD menu to the rough grid of photographs laid out like TV screens in a shop window or a Nam June Paik installation.
And then there’s Goldberg’s ability to string together a story, massaging personal histories into a compelling narrative arc. Visually it resembles a family scrapbook but feels more textured and alive than static pages, so perhaps it’s more accurate to treat it like a home movie or a spiritual twin to Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun.
Goldberg’s annotations on the imagery and the inclusion of personal ephemera at times makes the work feel like a dossier in an investigation, which chimes with the introspective nature of the project.
Mining your past for memories forces you to scour for clues you might have missed the first time around. Did we do enough when that person was alive? Did we do too much to drive someone away? These undertakings often lead to more questions than answers, but as Coming and Going shows, they can also be a thing of beauty.
Coming and Going by Jim Goldberg is published by Mack; mackbooks.co.uk