State of Identity: A Review of Jim Goldberg’s Rich and Poor (1977-85).

  • Georgia Cunningham


In collaboration with the Wilson Centre for Photography, Nottingham Contemporary exhibited a month-long display based on the work of seventeen photographers all experimenting with innovative and documentary forms. Involved in this were the likes of Ming Smith, Lee Friedlander and Diane Arbus. Titled States of America, the synecdoche of the exhibition established a simple connection between America’s economy and the plight of the working class from 1960-1990. However, one individual artist who included their own unique, documentary technique within this oppressive topic was Jim Goldberg. Whilst evoking a series of heart-wrenching yet thought-provoking emotions, Rich and Poor uses the collaborative media of monochromatic images and handwritten notes to allow its audience to see the art through a subjective and realistic lens. The revealing form strips away the potential of misunderstanding and acknowledges the truth behind unachievable ‘American Dream’. Upon first glimpse, I believed this would only be demonstrated through the lives of the working class; however, the loneliness and missed opportunities of the rich are also exemplified, allowing myself and the audience to view States of America from an alternative perspective.

How to Cite
CUNNINGHAM, Georgia. State of Identity: A Review of Jim Goldberg’s Rich and Poor (1977-85).. Literary Cultures, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 1, mar. 2018. ISSN 2516-3310. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 08 feb. 2023.