Arts & Culture

Interview with Rafael Goldchain

Photographer Rafael Goldchain has created a new type of family album, well suited to our current reality of manufactured identity, diaspora and displaced families. He inherited a collective history that some of us share, where historical circumstances forced many Jews … Read More

By / October 31, 2008

Photographer Rafael Goldchain has created a new type of family album, well suited to our current reality of manufactured identity, diaspora and displaced families. He inherited a collective history that some of us share, where historical circumstances forced many Jews and others to flee without even their family photographs. After having his own son, and he decided to create a series that filled in some of the lost and missing family. In this series of self-portraits Goldchain transforms himself into his real (and imagined) ancestors, photographically creating and documenting a family history that only existed in memories and stories. After a long process of genealogical research, he used theatrical make-up and costuming to physically and psychologically transform into his family members, capturing these bold characters in photographs that evoke traditional portraiture. In his new book, I Am My Family: Photographic Memories and Fictions, we can see 55 self-portraits along with his sketchbooks, production stills, and archival images of some of the family members Goldchain recreates in his photographs. Surprisingly, these archival images seem shadowy in comparison to images like Self-Portrait of Doña Reizl Goldszajn Rozenfeld, one of Goldchain’s fictional relatives, whose conservative stylish clothing contrasts with her wild hair and the deep sadness in her gaze. In Goldchain’s photographic search for identity and memory, we see through one family’s journey, the collective Jewish story of exile and movement across continents, generations, and from traditional life to modernity.

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