Often resembling the ornate, mystical, or folkloric imagery of the art-historical canon, Genevieve Goffman’s work incorporates scenes of historical calamities, cultural regressions, and forgotten wars that ultimately confuse this trajectory. The state house construction similarly depicts this fascination with world-building, and the naivete within the notion of our City upon a Hill, a wry confrontation with the political blunders of imperial fanatics, traditional bureaucrats, and radical idealists alike.
Many of Goffman’s aesthetic allusions reference both the piquant visual appeal of popular Anime and Fantasy culture and the very real violence associated with reimagining historical boundaries. The foundation of the architecture of this imaginary state house was inspired by photographs of Yugoslavian war monuments found in Tjentište and Podgarić, and built under Josip Bronz Tito in celebration of the end of World War II. Fairytale, pastoral scenes accompany these structures that often resemble idyllic representations of mythical utopia found in Greek and Roman archetypes, a sly critique of a western mentality that simultaneously valorizes the past and idealizes progressive visions of the future.
Beyond a condemnation of the notion of human progress, the medium itself represents a spectral analysis of the vicissitudes of historical labor production and the fantasy of a workfree society. Designed in 3D modeling software and manufactured in a variety of industrial materials from brass to new-age plastics, Goffman’s lilliputian compositions often showcase fictional societies in various states of work, leisure, and governance. Despite the evident use of a new means of technological production, it’s not immediately obvious what period of time Goffman’s work belongs to, and it’s similarly unclear the impact that printing technologies will have on society outside of artmaking, adding a paradoxical sense of urgency to Goffman’s practice.
Ultimately the artist’s own labor and visual detail ensure that Goffman’s project cannot be described wholly in political terms—the maximalist aesthetic necessitates a lengthy, riotous examination of the horrible beauty of human imagination and failed ambitions. Trying to associate Goffman’s work solely to our particular art-historical timeline is precisely the linear mindset being parodied in her work. Rather than try to make sense of these alternative realties, Goffman’s work often delivers a sense of delightful terror with no moral outcome, an emotional response to the sheer enormity of this asynchronous archive of potential human histories. Broader eschatological concerns often resonate in Goffman’s whimsical universes—her totalizing aesthetic catalogue may allude to one last desperate conquest of self-proclaimed world-builders: our own digital afterlife.
Genevieve Goffman (b. 1991, Washington, D.C.) is a New York-based artist. She graduated from the Yale MFA program in 2020. Recent solo exhibitions include Grind, Money Gallery, St Petersburg, RU, 2021; Here Forever, Alyssa Davis Gallery, New York, NY, 2020; Hotel Heaven, Lubov, New York, NY, 2019. She has also shown work with Fragment Gallery in New York, EXILE in Vienna, Austria, Patara Gallery in Tbilisi, Georgia, Workroom.Daipyat in Voronezh, Russia, and Harawik in Los Angeles, CA. Goffman has shown at NADA x Foreland in 2021 with Alyssa Davis Gallery and Bienvenue Art Fair (Paris) in 2021 with Lily Robert. This is her first solo show at Hyacinth.