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.