Brian Goggin sometimes seems like a gift from another planet — a sort of Mork, who refreshingly doesn’t quite see the world like the rest of us. He never learned to be cynical, nor practical. In his presence, one can feel a storm of ideas brewing. Like his slightly upturned mustache, mussed-up hair and exuberant eyes, his artwork creates unexpected surprises.
His current work, Meghalaya, springs from a magical lens defying what most would consider possible. Who else would have a vision of 13 glass and steel pianos, pulsing with light, suspended high over a street in earthquake-prone San Francisco — let alone actually execute it? Yet thousands have walked beneath those pianos and experienced Goggin’s Caruso’s Dream along Ninth Street, just south of Market. And many San Franciscans remember fondly his piece Defenestration, and the challenge of driving past without doing a double take of the furniture crawling on the outside of the building, as if escaping out the windows.
It’s no wonder that Goggin cites filmmaker Federico Fellini as one of his biggest influences. Goggin’s art openings are extravagant performance-art block parties that attempt to reveal his pieces’ many layers of meaning to the public. And another filmmaking parallel is apt: Werner Herzog has called the filming of Fitzcarraldo one of the most stressful periods in his life, and yet to Goggin, “Pulling that boat over the mountain looked like the most fun anyone could possibly have,” he says.
That same playful sense imbues all of Goggin’s work. I’ve rarely experienced someone who works so tirelessly, for so long, and with such fierce, yet lighthearted conviction. In the video above, he takes us all along for the ride.