Last week five other interns and I were led through the Contemporary and African art galleries by Curators Linda Dougherty and Kinsey Katchka. Before our tour we learned about the curators’ roles in the Museum and discussed the process of selecting art and displaying it in a museum setting. The curators intrigued me with stories of weekend trips to New York and Miami for various art shows, where they scout out up-and-coming artists. They answered our many questions and then proceeded to the galleries.
It wasn’t until we stopped at several photographs that I found a piece of art that really piqued my interest. Anthony Goicolea’s Still Life with Pig (2005) is pleasantly shocking. Two young boys huddle underneath a lean-to while a decaying pig lies lifelessly on a log before them.
Upon closer inspection I noticed blue and yellow war paint on the boys’ faces. Like Tom and Huck, the boys appear to be resting from adventurous explorations of the woods surrounding them. I almost lost focus of the photo when one of the curators mentioned a little-known fact: Goicolea’s photograph is actually a fabricated image, created with the help of Photoshop and a vivid imagination.
The objects in the picture are real, but the juxtaposition of them is not. Goicolea layered photos of the various objects on his computer, meticulously placing each layer so as to confuse the viewer into thinking that somewhere, somehow, this scene might have happened. Goicolea’s picture is indeed a work of art, a creation based on fantasy and reality. But in my world, Photoshop exists on fashion magazine covers and the advertisements that go inside them, not hanging in art galleries. Goicolea’s work, perhaps not as aesthetically pleasing as airbrushed starlets, had me questioning my perception of what is art.