Goicolea confesses to feeling “a strange sense of nostalgia for something I have never been a part of or experienced directly.” In May of 2008 he made his first pilgrimage to Cuba visiting the homes, schools and churches of his parents and grandparents. The resulting photographs are constructed landscapes devoid of people, populated only by vegetation, architecture, telephone poles, and strung lights. Digitally composed from images of locations throughout Havana, Goicolea further manipulates these works by staging performances and scenarios in these settings, thus re-imagining and re-imaging the remains of another time.


In similar vein, Goicolea also refashions his own familial history in a series of portraits after old photographs of Cuban family members. By drawing and painting these portraits as busts placed behind glass high on make shift pedestals, Goicolea preserves and honours his family while simultaneously placing them just out of reach. He creates a reinterpreted, second-generation reproduction of their likenesses, which directly confronts the sense of disjunction between a supposed mythical homeland and his estrangement from it.
The work Goicolea first became known for exuded a playful narcissism. However his oeuvre is more recently marked by an earnest, almost wistful search for roots or connections to his past. Here, as in his multiple self-portraits, Goicolea is exploring his identity; only this time he approaches it from a poignant awareness of the cultural ingredients and familial history that make us who we are.

Anthony Goicolea has had solo exhibitions at Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, Galerie Aurel Scheibler in Berlin, Haunch of Venison in London and Sandroni Rey Gallery in Los Angeles. His works were included in exhibitions at The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, Guggenheim, Whitney museum, MOMA in New York, MassMOCA, Miami Art Museum, and North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.

ABOUT Anthony Goicolea

Born in 1971 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Lives and works in New York

Anthony Goicolea (USA, 1971) is a first-generation Cuban American artist. He grew up in the Deep South of the United States of America, in the midst of the Cuban refugee crises, coupled with the advent of the AIDS crises, and the rise of the religious right. Goicolea was socially stigmatised for being Cuban, gay, and Catholic. These circumstances brought about a heightened awareness of social constructs, and the changing nature of identity in politics – a theme that continually influences his work. Goicolea explores themes ranging from personal history and identity, cultural tradition and heritage, to alienation and displacement.

His diverse oeuvre encompasses digitally manipulated self-portraits, landscapes, and narrative tableaux executed in a variety of media, including black-and-white and color photography, sculpture and video installations, and multi-layered drawings on Mylar. Best known for his powerful, and often unsettling, staged photographic and video works, Goicolea made his artistic debut in the late 1990s with a series of provocative multiple self-portrait images. These early works featured groups of young boys on the threshold of adolescence, acting out childhood fantasies and bizarre rituals of revelry and social taboo in highly staged domestic or institutional settings or dense, fairy-tale forests. Revealing a playful self-consciousness, they often consisted of complex composites of the artist himself, in all manner of poses and guises. Soon thereafter, Goicolea garnered international attention with his ambiguous, yet strangely compelling, landscapes, ranging from dream-like woodland environments to vast, unforgiving urban and industrial wastelands. The artist has created several series of digitally composited, and heretofore uncharted, topographies, often populated by bands of masked and uniformed figures.

In recent series, many of the images are devoid of humans, although the landscape reflects an anonymous and increasingly tenuous human presence. In these works, primitive lean-tos and crudely constructed shanties coexist in an uneasy union with the technological vestiges of an industrialized society. Suggesting a world on the brink of obsolescence, these chilling images further cement the pervasive undercurrent of human alienation—from one another as well as the natural environment—that can be traced throughout the artist’s work.

Anthony Goicolea has exhibited widely, notably at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois; the International Center of Photography, New York and Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid. Goicolea’s art is held in many public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; Yale University Art Collection, Photography, CT; the Museum of Contemporary Art of Castile and Leon, Spain;  21c Museum, Louisville, KY, the Akzo Nobel Art Foundation, Amsterdam, and Cobra to Contemporary/The Brown Family Collection, among others.