Gift of William R. and Louise Fielder
Maggie Dethloff, Ph.D., Associate Curator of Photography and New Media, Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University: Jim Goldberg’s "The Poor and Privileged of San Francisco", published as a photobook titled "Rich and Poor" (1985), is the artist’s seminal project in the realm of storytelling through text and image. For this series, created between 1977 and 1985, the photographer invited his subjects to review their portraits and write their own reflections on the page. As the series title states, Goldberg’s portraits feature both the rich and the poor of San Francisco, taken in their elegant and lavish homes and welfare hotel rooms, respectively. Questions of representation and power are inherent in portrait photography, but Goldberg’s invitation to the individuals to interpret their own images, in their words, allows them to exert control over the narrative. While the images show most overtly the material differences between the homes of the rich and poor, the sitters’ words give the clearest sense of the personal and psychological effects of wealth and poverty. In "Larry Benko", a shirtless man stands in a dingy hotel room, with one arm protectively around a little boy standing on the sagging bed. Larry Benko, the subject of the photograph, writes underneath, “I love David. But he is to (sic) fragile for a rough father like me,” highlighting the intersection of class, gender expectations, and parenthood.
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