Jonathan Goldman | Back to Shore
Curator: Yaron Haramati

Jonathan Goldman’s artworks walk the fine line between science and art and between imagination and reality. Immersing himself in exploration and observation, he follows the occurrences taking place in the studio to new places, allowing the works to undergo a process of transformation, or as the artist refers to it – evolution. The exhibition Back to Shore traces the evolutionary process in his works by presenting selected works from previous projects alongside new works.

The first project in this thread is the exhibition L.A.N.D which was held at the Wilfrid Israel Museum and explored the connection between sound and form and material. The exhibition consisted of an installation of a laboratory for growing alternative continents, the “floating mountains” – an idea that started with a doodle in the sketchpad and evolved into an entire project that serves as the starting point for his different works. The installation emulates the aesthetics of a laboratory, yet in contrast with the initial association that comes to mind when thinking of the scientific setting, this is a laboratory for growing new existence alternatives. Meaning, a laboratory for growing “mountain fetuses” that will go on to become floating mountains, on which it would be possible to create an alternative life to the one we are living.

The next project Goldman worked on is the The West Border, which holds the conceptual tier of the lab for growing floating mountains. While the first project took place in the confines of the lab, in the second project the artist stepped out into the field, conflating the role of survivor with the role of scientist in a voyage at sea on a raft he had built in the studio over several months. The journey followed the Israeli coastline – the country’s western border. During the voyage, Goldman realized his vision and planted the mountain fetuses he grew in his lab on the seabed, in the hope that they will rise and emerge from the surface of the sea and form new dimensions of existence. The voyage at sea was documented in the video work The West Border, which shifts along the axis between documenting the artist’s action, to a video work that recounts the fictional story of a survivor-scientist, who tries to grow alternative continents on which we could begin a new life.

Alongside the “field research” he conducted at sea during his journey, the artist also performed survivalist and navigation actions on nautical charts of Israel. These had triggered his interest in maps of Israel and its borders, yet in contrast to the conventional discourse surrounding borders, Goldman wishes to focus on the country’s western border – an arbitrary line separating sea and land. As the sole border that is not manmade but rather a natural border, Israel’s western border is in fact absent from the public agenda. This is one of the things that drove the artist to pause and focus on it, and explore the possibility of finding through it new alternatives for understanding the notion of “border”. Goldman treats maps with different materials, consequently blurring the details that appear on the map. In this process, he leaves a faint memory of those borders, transforming the function of the map from an orienting device to the support of a painting that presents the material aspect of the journey rather than the territory and its borders.

The title of this show, Back to Shore, demonstrates the current state of the artist: one step after the voyage at sea, in which he had returned to shore, drew conclusions, and came up with new insights. The exhibition encompasses the three incarnations of Goldman’s work and unfolds an evolution of an idea through the creative process. The process started in his exploration into the link between sound and shape, engendered the image of the floating mountains, evolved into the idea of a lab for growing new continents, and from there to a journey at sea on a raft and back to the notion of borders and a new interest in the maps of Israel. This is a rare opportunity to experience the artist’s body of work in its full context, allowing entry into his process of exploring, a journey of thoughts and ideas that started with his graduation three years ago, and goes on to this day.

Text: Bar Goren