Open See

Jim Goldberg’s Open See, the latest exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery comes as a great surprise. After a couple of decidedly average exhibitions I wasn’t sure what to expect of Goldberg’s work, although the Magnum connection got me interested. I’ve been a fan of their group of photographers for many years and the draw of the name was enough to get me over to Soho for a visit and a coffee in their excellent café.


If you’re passion is documentary and reportage photography then this is an exhibition you should see — Goldberg’s Open See explores the lives of some of Europe, Asia and Africa’s millions of displaced people and migrant communities. From Bangladesh to Ukraine and India, his eclectic mix of large-format photography, video pieces and Polaroid images brings to the fore the daily struggles of the men, women and children of countries who seem to have been forgotten by the western world.

Distressing in places, uplifting in others, the mix of media, words and image plays beautifully with the tempered calm of the Photographer’s Gallery. It’s a disquieting feeling drinking your decaf latté as you ponder the words of 12 year-old girls trafficked into prostitution, of men tortured by the Taliban, and of countless other stories of bodies and minds taken to places beyond our worst nightmares.

Goldberg’s photography and image-making is excellent, and you can’t help but wonder at his composition and timing — the formats chosen are prefect for their subjects, and allow them to speak loudly and colourfully of their hopes and dreams, whatever they have endured. Excellent.