Jim Goldberg
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.

Jim Goldberg’s work is characterised by a powerful sense of involvement with individuals on the margins of society. He often uses text as an essential part of his compositions. 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 his subjects.

Jim Goldberg began his New Europeans 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 like 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. 

This exhibition was made possible by Fondation HCB, Groupe Wendel and Magnum Photos. With thanks to Stichting Sem Presser Archief and NCDO.

Foam is supported by the BankGiro Loterij, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, City of Amsterdam, Delta Lloyd, Olympus and the VandenEnde Foundation.

explore connections

Jim Goldberg