REFLECTIONS | by Gary Goldstein  
     
 

My work is always personal and introverted. It deals with my feelings and my "being" within this world. Christopher Isherwood in "Prater Violet" writes that the purpose of Art and Literature is not to "learn" from the experience of others, but rather to experience for even a short time, how it feels to be in the life of someone else. It is that feeling as a human being at a particular place and time that I try to transmit in my work.

I grew up to two parents who were Holocaust survivors, who knew personal suffering, uprootedness and loss. Despite their optimism in creating new families, new lives in a new place, in a new language, with different values, their shared worldview remained apocalyptic. My mother raised me with the leitmotif "You know the hell that you have but not the one that can be".

That feeling of dread, of fear of the future and of change accompanied me throughout my life. As many children of that generation, I carry the name of my Mother's Father. Implicit in that act of naming is the hope for continuation so cruelly ended, the hope and expectation that I, my brother and sister would achieve and succeed and give their losses , and their lives meaning. I grew up with two simultaneous and mutually exclusive messages. One-Succeed! The other, it makes no difference what you do because in any event you will end up as smoke. Nihilism, hope, meaning and meaninglessness constantly coexist in my world-view and in my actions. My fear is of being erased, and of being forgotten, of not leaving something after me.

My work as an artist has always assumed the aspect of an Archive documenting my daily thoughts and emotions. I work on paper, primarily pages of second-hand books, creating fragile records of my life, my memories, my hopes, my dread and my fantasies. By inclination and by nature it has become a ritualized ongoing discussion with God and with Fate. It simultaneously acts as protection and record of a particular phase of my life.

As an artist, that dread, that fear and those obsessions have acted as a stimulus providing a seemingly endless source. As a person, that dread and apocalyptic worldview have been something that I have struggled to change- to see change as opportunity and the future as a promise.

I see my work not as an agent of change in my life, but rather as reflection of my experience and being in this world. In "Oracle Night", Paul Auster writes of artists that carry the past, the present inside them while what they create can influence the future. That desire for change, for development as a person and as an artist, the fear of letting go of what is known and the search for different sources is what my "Taking Stock" is all about.

Jerusalem, September 16, 2008