Goodman Gallery presents GOQA, Carlos Garaicoa’s second exhibition with the gallery - marking a return to Joburg since participating in the first Johannesburg Biennale (1995) and bringing new and historical work, previously unseen within South Africa.
As an artist whose practice explores the connected histories of Latin America and the African continent, Garaicoa’s practice exemplifies the power of South-South relationships in the arts.
The centerpiece of the exhibition comprises a new body of photographic work in which the artist responds to contemporary Johannesburg alongside a series of historical works that consider varying contexts within the Global South with a focus on Cuba, Angola and South Africa.
At the heart of Garaicoa’s practice is an ongoing exploration of the narratives that buildings articulate as part of an expansion of the evolving dialogue between art, urban space and urban imaginaries. These concerns closely inform the new body of photography produced during a 2022 research trip to Johannesburg.
GOQA, the title for the photographic series from which the exhibition takes its name, is Zulu slang for a special key to enter a house illegally. This reference manifests in the installation of the work: a collection of blank keys held on rings alongside key holders that show photographs of Johannesburg’s buildings. Collectively, these photographs present a portrait of the city’s architecture today - an entry point for thinking about buildings as witnesses to history and as storytellers of failed urban ideals, forgotten spaces and deterioration.
Garaicoa’s Puzzles (2018-2022) series also reflects themes such as urban decay and degeneration of architecture over time. Here photographic works are shown in two layers; the first is a foregrounded image printed as a puzzle and the second is a washed-out version of the same image appearing in the background. The puzzle renderings of the photographs are dismantled in areas, with pieces held at the bottom of the clear plexiglass casing that contains each work.
The exhibition also includes elements of Memorias Intímas: Marcas [Intimate Memories: Marks], the historically significant project produced in collaboration with Fernando Alvim (Angola) and Gavin Younge (South Africa) in 1997. The work reexamines fragments of the Angolan Civil War in the territory of Cuito Cuanavale where Angola and Cuba joined forces against a common enemy, the South African Defence Force under apartheid. Here, Garaicoa’s photographs draw temporal and geopolitical connections between Cuba, Angola and South Africa.
Another key work on display is Garaicoa’s installation Escala 1:1 [Scale 1:1] (2014) in which rulers are cut to resemble buildings, resulting in a temporary cityscape along the gallery walls.
Carlos Garaicoa (b. 1967 Havana, Cuba) has developed a multidisciplinary practice that addresses issues relating to culture and politics, particularly Cuban, through attention to architecture and urbanism. His work propels a dialogue between art and urban space to unpack the social structures of our cities in relation to the architecture.
Solo exhibitions include: Peabody Essex Museum, Salem (2020), Kulturna Ustanova Galerija Kula, Split (2020), SCAD, Savannah (2020); Lunds Konsthall and Skissernass Museum, Lund (2019); Parasol Unit Foundation, London (2018); MAAT, Lisbon (2017); Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2016); Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo (2015); NC-Arte and FLORA ars + natura, Bogotá (2014); Kunsthaus Baselland Muttenz, Basel (2012); H.F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (2011); National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST), Athens (2011); Inhotim Instituto de Arte Contemporáneo, Brumadinho (2012); Caixa Cultural, Río de Janeiro (2008); IMMA, Dublin (2010); Contemporary Art Museum, Institute for Research in Art, Tampa (2007); Museum of Contemporary Art (M.O.C.A), Los Angeles (2005); Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango, Bogotá (2000).
Major international shows include: the Biennials of Havana (1991, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2009, 2012, 2015), Shanghai (2010), São Paulo (1998, 2004), Venice (2009, 2005), Johannesburg (1995), Liverpool (2006) and Moscow (2005), the Triennials of Auckland (2007), San Juan (2004), Yokohama (2001) and Echigo-Tsumari (2012); Documenta 11 (2003) and 14 (2017) and PhotoEspaña 12 (2012).
In 2005 Garaicoa received the XXXIX International Contemporary Art Prize Foundation “Pierre de Monaco” in Monte Carlo, and the Katherine S. Marmor Award in Los Angeles.
Garaicoa studied thermodynamics and painting at the Instituto Superior de Arte, Havana (1989 – 1994). He lives and works between Havana and Madrid.