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2 / Dreams and Visions

Revenge of the Goldfish
Revenge of the Goldfish
Artist / Origin Sandy Skoglund (American, b. 1946)
Region: North America
Date 1981
Material Cibachrome color photograph
Dimensions H: approx. 27 ½ in. (70 cm.), W: approx. 35 in. (89 cm.)
Credit © 1981 Sandy Skoglund all rights reserved

expert perspective

Sandy SkoglundArtist

Additional Resources

Ganis, William V. “Sandy Skoglund.” In Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography. Edited by Lynne Warren. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2006.

Morton, Robert, ed. Sandy Skoglund: Reality Under Siege; A Retrospective. New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with Smith College, 1998.

Muehlig, Linda. Sandy Skoglund. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998. “Sandy Skoglund.” In Collections. Museum of Contemporary Photography Web site. http://www.mocp.org/detail.php?t=objects&type=browse&f=maker&s=Skoglund%2C+Sandy&record=0.

Sandy Skoglund Web site. http://www.sandyskoglund.com.

“Shimmering Madness: An Installation by Sandy Skoglund.” In Exhibits. Dayton Art Institute Web site. http://www.daytonartinstitute.org/learn/youth-family-programs/experiencenter.

Revenge of the Goldfish

» Sandy Skoglund (American, b. 1946)

American photographer Sandy Skoglund creates brightly colored fantasy images.

She builds elaborate sets, filled with props, figurines, and human models, which she then photographs. In her work, Skoglund explores the aesthetics of artificiality and the effects of interrupting common reality. Each element of her constructed scenes, taken individually, is familiar and unremarkable. The juxtapositions she creates among the parts, however, are surprising, strange, and new. Her oeuvre includes photographs of a room full of “radioactive” green cats, a forest of humanoid trees visited by actual people and human sculptures, and a hillside populated by adult-sized babies. The images are uncanny, visually arresting, and often quite humorous.

While many of Skoglund’s images have a dreamlike quality, Revenge of the Goldfish, in particular, emphasizes this aspect of her work. The composition is centered around a bedroom. A child sits, awake, on the edge of a bed where an adult sleeps. The monochrome uniformity of the blue-green room and furniture plays on the idea of the whole scene as an aquarium. The detail, variety, and bright orange color of the 120 goldfish make them the most vivid part of the image. This is ironic as they are also the most irrational part. In preparation for taking this photograph, Skoglund sculpted each of the fish in terracotta. While goldfish are hardly dangerous animals, the title transforms what is already a mysterious scenario into something vaguely threatening.

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