Project: The Agency Project

Artist: Alex Goldberg

When I was very young, probably around age 10, I saw a Yoko Ono installation where she invited viewers to take a little piece of white paper with verbiage home. Each paper had a different message. I carefully chose one that said, “Draw a map to get lost.” I was so moved by this - the words were so simple - the paper so simple. I’ve kept this idea with me ever since. It trickles in and out of my thinking. Recently I realized that the methodology I am creating for The Agency Project is a system for drawing maps to get lost. 

 Yoko Ono, Map Piece, 1964

Yoko Ono, Map Piece, 1964


Prior to the development of The Agency Project, I was making these composition pieces…

 Alex Goldberg. Composition 1, 2018

Alex Goldberg. Composition 1, 2018

 Alex Goldberg, Composition 1, 2018

Alex Goldberg, Composition 1, 2018

 Alex Goldberg, Composition 3, 2018

Alex Goldberg, Composition 3, 2018

 Alex Goldberg, Composition 3, 2018

Alex Goldberg, Composition 3, 2018

 Alex Goldberg, Composition 2, 2018

Alex Goldberg, Composition 2, 2018

 Alex Goldberg, Composition 2, 2018

Alex Goldberg, Composition 2, 2018

These works are about the dance between creative work and life. They are a discussion about how everything we do with our minds, bodies, and eyes influences our personal composition at large. Today the way that we share our work and life, in realtime and through technology, has become a necessary evil. We are expected to divulge our truth and process while it is still in the making. This is vulnerability at its best and worst. The different modes of representation in my composition works are a visual interpretation of these tensions. 

The making of these works gave me a real understanding of the kit of parts that is my practice and this was how The Agency Project was born. 

The Agency Project developed from my personal need for a form of healing that came from my own development. I believe the human mind and experience is complex and infinitely individual. Our wounds are also unique and require our own upmost attention to heal. 

The nature of modernity creates systems and patterns; sometimes to a fault. This project is about returning to an individualized humanity. 

I have been working on a series of personal mapping projects that I see as case studies for a method that facilitates self awareness, transformation, and self acceptance. A mapping project beings once I identify an area that could use attention and then hone in on a specific method for collecting data. 

It seems that I need some form of structure (a map) to set myself free. Structure is dangerous if you hold too tightly to it, but with free flow I lack focus and the ability to grow. The key is to find balance. When off balance, both structure and looseness give way to different methods for avoidance, and at the heart of it, these case studies are attempts at counteracting avoidance of truths. 

The success in the work is that the acts of documenting, revisiting, and transcribing manifest awareness of both my reality and my agency over my daily life and the broader course of my life. My goal is to utilize the research from my case studies to positively influence other individuals and communities. 


Case Study 2 -100 Days of Perspective:

100 Days of Perspective is the first completed case study. For this project I wrote down the most prominent negative thought I had about myself each day and then forced myself to notate a positive counterpart. I also took a picture of myself. 

This project brought forth awareness that the things that I am frustrated by exist in part because of the choices I am proud of and have nurtured. It also highlighted the aspects of my life that I am not so honest with myself about and need to give more attention. It has brought an equilibrium and balance into my mentality. 

 Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Scroll, 2018

Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Scroll, 2018

 Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Scroll, 2018

Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Scroll, 2018

 Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Scroll, 2018

Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Scroll, 2018

 Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Scroll, 2018

Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Scroll, 2018

The first construction of this work is a  mylar scroll. It is transparent and double sided with positive notes on one side and negative on the other. This is an attempt at visually representing the different angles perspective can take. 

The second construction is a deck of cards. The pieces are constructed similarly, but the outcome is different. These pieces can be shuffled and rearranged. The deck was created four months after the scroll and the process of creating the deck was quite different. The data feels like a memory and a reminder instead of a current process.

 Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Deck, 2018

Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Deck, 2018

 Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Deck, 2018

Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Deck, 2018

The act of writing my negative thoughts on top of my image and then flipping my image over to write a positive thought was transformative. 

 Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Deck

Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Deck

 Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Deck

Alex Goldberg, 100 Days Deck


Case Study 1 - 1 Year of Spinning:

The next study is, 1 Year of Spinning. This is a project where I notated everywhere I went for a year. At this time I had a very long commute, about three hours total train time a day, so I started spinning on the train as a way to keep myself calm. I felt like I never stopped moving and wanted to think about how all the different activities in my life relate to one another. 

Spinning yarn is a very slow process. The act of doing this on the train was an attempt to stay in touch with myself and nature in a hyper technological environment. 

Alex Goldberg, Train Spinning, 2017

 Alex Goldberg, 2268 Feet of Yarn, 2017-2018

Alex Goldberg, 2268 Feet of Yarn, 2017-2018

 Alex Goldberg, September Travel Notes, 2017

Alex Goldberg, September Travel Notes, 2017

 Alex Goldberg, New York City Map Drawing - September 2017 - February 2018, 2018

Alex Goldberg, New York City Map Drawing - September 2017 - February 2018, 2018

This study helped begin shifting my mentality on alone time and self-care. Ultimately at the end of this year, I moved to a different neighborhood and am now much closer to the communities that I pour my energy into 


Case Study 3 - Notes on Yoga

The third, and newest, project is a study of how my physical yoga practice, and possibly other physical experience, helps me understand my mind and individuality. 

The one hundred days project shed light on a lack of physical activity in my life and that I was perhaps emotionally cut off from my body.

As a child, dance was a major part of my life. Notes on Yoga is a study in returning to my spirit and finding a new found understanding for how physical practice and mental activity are deeply connected. 

The structure of this project was simply to go to Yoga. While in yoga I would then have moments where my physical activity helped me to understand myself. Here are the thoughts from a few of those moments. 

 Alex Goldberg, Peace Fingers, 2018

Alex Goldberg, Peace Fingers, 2018

 Alex Goldberg, Humble Warrior, 2018

Alex Goldberg, Humble Warrior, 2018

 Alex Goldberg, Cactus Arms, 2018

Alex Goldberg, Cactus Arms, 2018

 Alex Goldberg, Fetal Position, 2018

Alex Goldberg, Fetal Position, 2018