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 select 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 Western 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 Western 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.
The West Border
During the past year, Israeli artist Jonathan Goldman has built a big raft out of recycled wood, plastic barrels, a sail made out of cloth and sailed into the open sea.This nautical-fictional journey is telling a partially documentary partially fictional story of a scientist, who plants and grows mountains or floating islands as an alternative environment for life.
The project "The West Border" started as a response to a specific Isareli Kibbutz located beside the border between Israel and Gaza. this settlement was founded in 1936 and was obligated to relocate in 1943 to the south.
Contemplating the migration of the kibbutz members south, along the Israeli coastline, ignited J Goldman’s imagination, and thus was born the idea for an aquatic, personal and political journey along the Israeli coast. It is a journey that provokes questions about the relocation of “the home”, the western sea border and the “costs” of existence in a conflictridden area.
During this journey pseudo scientific activities were conducted as part of Goldman’s ongoing occupation of the scientific methods expressed in his art. a “lab” for fertilizing and growing “mountain embryos” imaginary figures whose unique growing conditions combine lights and sounds created at his artistic lab, was erected on the raft .
The mountain embryos were planted during this voyage, along the Israeli coast in the abyss of the sea, embodying the potential to cultivate landmass, creating an alternative existence or expanding on the existing one.
pictures by Dor Even Chen
Secret art 8
'The West Border' raft on which I sailed along the Israeli coastline was presented as the entrance installation of the Secret art 8 exhibition at the Leumi bank in Tel Aviv, curated by Esti Drori.
The documentation video of the installation process was filmed and edited by Dor Even Chen
This is what I think about the situation
The Lab Installation was established as part of the Broken Relationship exhibition at the Gabirol Gallery in 2015.
It is a laboratory for the creation and growth of Floating Mountains, a conseptual idea of a new land where we could start life again from 0.
L.A.N.D exhibition, at the Wilfrid museum, Kibbutz Hazore'a, Israel, Curators: Anat Turbowicz & Shir Yamaguchi.
The installation includes a laboratory in which tiny floating mountains are grown in glass jars inside green-turquoise liquid. "The sounds illuminate the mountains from within; the lighting responds to the sound of the sea, repetitious sounds of nature. The simple acts, such as dripping or knocking, are, in fact, cyclic acts which illuminate the mountains and 'make them grow' as it were, until one day they may become continents themselves."
The current installation elicits thoughts about evolution—the development of life on earth and its feasibility in the future. It is a twilight zone where the line between art and science fiction blurs.
My interest in evolution may have led me to the idea of a habitat for continents at laboratory conditions. We have a long history, teeming with traumas we have experienced on earth, and here is a scientist who 'grows' little mountain embryos, that will develop, hover, and become new continents. A life will emerge there, and a new evolution will begin. The question is, what kind of evolution will take place on each of them? It is a very naïve thought that stemmed from the works, which incarnated into one another. The images that inspired me were the natural habitats of algae whose turquoise hues merge with the color of the seaweed growing in the water.