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  • Bianca Vinther

When Fiction Becomes Fact: ART TALK with Joshua Goode, American Artist & Professor of Arts

On Tuesday, 15 February 2022, I had an exciting and funny conversation with Joshua Goode, an American artist who teaches fine arts at Tarrant County College in Forth Worth, Texas (USA), manages the college's art gallery, The Carillon, and is also in charge of the college's artist residency programme.

Check out this episode of THE POINTLESS ARTIST PODCAST here.

As food for your thoughts and inspiration in your creative process, I've included below an overview of Joshua’s mind-blowing work as an artist and a summary of my conversation with him.

Picture of the American Artist joshua Goode and his Rhoman Artemis Statue.
Joshua Goode and his extremely rare "Rhoman Artemis Statue". Courtesy of the artist.

How many of the Indiana Jones movies have you seen? And what struck you most about these films? If you ask me, I was struck by the unique blend of reality and fiction. It fascinates me, each time I watch these movies, to see the power of fantasy and myth.

Joshua Goode has been connected to Spielberg’s Indy many times before (he loves the character and movies by the way, so he’s always flattered by the comparison). He has often been referred to as “Indiana Jones of Art”. You shouldn’t wonder why.

Joshua’s art is a blend of historical facts, archaeology, and personal mythology. His body of work straddles the divide between facts and fiction but it’s more than just facts and fiction altogether. His works form a distinctive and complex “Imaginarium” of shapes and symbols that combine reality and personal phantasy in a perpetual dialogue.

Bronze sculpture of winged Marge Simpson by American artist Joshua Goode.
"Griffin" by Joshua Goode. Courtesy of the artist.

He catalyses disparate elements and narratives into often humorous objects. Memories of Native American ceremonies and a trauma caused by his sister’s degenerative disease (which, for many years, forced her closest relatives to constantly prepare for an imminent death) are being processed and alchemically transformed into hybrids that connect to his personal experiences and challenge scientific facts, manipulation and misinterpretation of the truth, and ultimately our perception of reality.

As well as personal archaeology, there is a constant attempt to expose the power of manipulation through images and objects, and the fundamental importance of critical thinking across cultures.

While I was never an archaeologist myself, I worked with archaeological material for many years when studying Egyptology in Cairo and writing my PhD in Egyptology and Coptology in Germany. I had the privilege of meeting highly regarded archaeologists like Jean-Philippe Lauer, Mark Lehner, Peter Grossmann, and Zahi Hawass, and experiencing what archaeological excavation and discovery are like first-hand. I, therefore, completely understand Joshua's interest in archaeology and his passion for archaeological discoveries, which becomes so contagious through his art.

In his work, the confines between art and archaeology are superfluous. His wit and sarcasm blow our mental grids apart. By doing so, he removes all boundaries. Blurring reality and fiction opens the door to infinite possibilities. Moreover, it gives us the chance to create new relationships between what is and what could be, as well as between singularity, unicity and collective vision.

Joshua knows how to use and reflect on the possibilities of fiction as both an instrument for understanding his own trauma and a tool for exposing the danger of manipulation through artifacts. Paradoxically though, fiction can make people see the truth. See beyond confines and beyond the big stories that, as the British artist Lucianna Whittle says, “own us” way too often.