Ben Goddard Class of 2009

As a kid, I was obsessed with dressing up as a rock star. With air guitar in hand and my bed as a stage, I would sing songs to an invisible audience for hours alone in my room. This series of self-portraits relates to my childhood game of pretending to be the musician I so strongly looked up to. Using costumes and staged scenarios, I explore the act of transforming my physical appearance into imagined characters. Turning the world into my childhood bedroom, many of these transformations draw loosely from fictional, cultural, and artistic role models in my life.

Yet there is something unimpressive about the iconic personae I attempt to become. Whether it's the predicaments I place myself in or the costumes I wear, my characters appear defeated, pitiful, or unable to live up to the expectations placed upon them. My failure to completely embody these characters adds to this feeling of implausibility and makes my transformative acts appear at times to be only at the level of a dress-up doll.

Humor is intrinsic to who I am. I love humor's awkwardness and its ability to make one laugh while, at the same time, reach a deeper understanding. I want these depictions of myself to be comical and entertaining. It excites me to push humor to the point where it dangles on the edge of absurd superficiality. I find something very human about taking the risk of appearing frivolous and without depth. Yet I am also terrified of falling into the abyss of meaninglessness. My fear of artistic failure ties into the not-so-valiant figures that I assign myself.

The title for these pictures comes from the English translation of my family crest. Goddard basically stands for strong young heart. Though my characters are not very courageous, making this project has built strength within me. I am torn between realizations of adult responsibility and my desire to escape back into my old childhood bedroom. Humor and theatricality in art feel like a way forward.

I intend my pictures to be open-ended. Some are direct. Some are ambiguous. Some speak to a feeling of youthful intuition without reference to specific characters. Some grow from literary or cinematic types. Taken together, I hope they form a bizarre, partially fabricated world in which I am the only permanent resident.

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