This is 5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in Under the Radar, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from Genevieve Goffman.
What are you trying to communicate with your work?
I demonstrate how narratives both outline the path of and frequently propel the distribution of power. How dominant power structures parabolize history, co-opt memory, and distort perceptions of current events. I am mildly obsessed with charting how states or political movements use memorialization as tool to manipulate communal memory and weaponize emotions. On the flip side, I’m also committed to highlighting narrative details and fragments that fall through the cracks. I’m interested in the ways individuals use tropes from stories, especially fantasy stories, to create narratives that empower them to sidestep rigid structures of value, toxic relationship forms, or allow them to escape the expectations of capital.
Genevieve and the Hydra (detail), 2017, Offset Lithograph print on newspaper, 20 x 29 inches
What is an artist’s responsibility?
I think that different artists have different responsibilities. As an artist with my specific privileges, opportunities, and skills I have a specific set of responsibilities.
I am committed to seriously exploring the pedagogical role of art. Art has a tremendous potential to make information available through nontraditional methods that could be more accessible and appealing than traditional education. Part of this power is the unique role art can play in encapsulating contradictions. If there are two truths that contradict each other, they can both be presented together undamaged.
That said, I am not interested in making propaganda. I am fascinated by the German Anti-Monumentalists, such as Esther and Jochen Gerz who struggled with the concept of making anti-fascist monuments, give the fascist connotations of monuments in and of themselves. I think that art, especially public art, can be dictatorial and co-opt emotions. It is not the responsibility of artists to engage in emotional extortion or spell out how people should perceive the stories around them, but I do think we can lay out information, narratives, and histories while making space for the audience to develop their own.
Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not)?
I think the best things I make are often screen shots or little artifacts I find online. But I guess one time I did Photoshop my friend’s face on to Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Marat. I thought that was pretty clever.
Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:
I am never going to direct or star in a music video, that’s sort of the dream, right? I used to fantasize about it when I was younger. I love the music video as a concept. But I honestly don’t know how to make videos. And honestly, I mostly fantasized about being like the love interest so maybe that’s not the most inspiring dream. Also I’m never going to build a boat. That would be dangerous and I don’t actually even know if I want to.
Exfantasy (curtain 2 of 5), 2016, Digital Print on Fabric, 35 x 64 inches
Who are three artists we should know but probably don’t?
Imani Elizabeth Jackson is a poet and artist from Chicago, who also makes beautiful zines and books. I love her and everything she does.
Tabitha Nikolai is an artist and professor from Portland. She just makes the most crazy inspired sculptures and virtual reality projects. Just like the best of geek culture, video games, fantasy, etc., but also deeply grounded in historical research and like material mastery. She recently did a show in Tokyo and the clothing she made, I don’t even know if I can describe it as clothing, but you should check it out.
I also really like Gina Wynbrandt’s comic books about sex. I don’t like most art about sex at all, but these are good.
—The ArtSlant Team
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(Image at top: Genevieve and the Hydra (print), 2017, Inkjet on canvas, 20 x 30 inches)