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999 Borats On The Wall

Gypsy, who is this woman you have shrunk?
Toronto-based Oli Goldsmith has embarked on a project both daunting and bizarre, but surely to the delight of pop culture afficionados: he’s creating a thousand portraits of…Borat?
Yep, Borat. A senior designer at the CBC, former Artist in Residence at the Drake Hotel and creator of Our Lady Peace’s Spritual Machines album art, Goldsmith has now set his sights on the infamous character created by Sacha Baron Cohen. The artist spoke with Torontoist about how the idea came about, and why anyone in their right mind would want to make 999 individual portraits of the fictional Kazakh journalist.

Artist Oli GoldsmithExplain what 999 Borats is.
The 999 Borats Project is something I have from the start referred to as an “unashamedly cheesy experiment in pop-art idiocy,” meant in a light-hearted way. It has become something more than that in many ways, but at its core it still can be described as such. The idea was to create 999 original “portraits”—using a mixture of art-making techniques and approaches (not putting any restrictions on myself there) but done generally pretty quickly, and all with a modest size of between about 8″x10″ and 12″x18″. And to use the internet, and specifically Flickr at first, as a means of having an audience follow the progression of the work. The ridiculously ambitious aim was to create 999 “original” artworks at a smallish scale with the the one restriction that they all be in some shape or form a portrait of Borat.
And that seems like a crazy amount of work.
The vastness seemed honestly not too daunting when I first had the idea. I like to be prolific and a little extreme—and it gets me into trouble far too often! I like to work on many pieces at once in my general art-making, and I saw this as a sort of freedom where with so many pieces I really could try some crazy stuff and not worry about ending up with, say, ten masterworks that I had to plan out carefully.
That’s not to say that the work isn’t something I’m not really pleased with—I am, so far at least. I try to take away restrictions because the free flow that occurs is usually when the best stuff happens, and it does so because you aren’t worried about getting it right. In a lot of ways, I try to get myself out of the way when it comes to creative work. It may sound weird, but I realize that many artists worry about whether an idea is a good one, whether they should do this or that or whether their work is meaningful. These all serve to just stifle and are self-inflicted roadblocks—obstacle illusionsn I like to call them). I really see no point in questioning things.
Jak sie masz?
What will the last Borat be like?
A key idea was that there would indeed be a Borat #1000, and that it would be life-sized, really slick, framed, and over-the-top! I had plans that maybe this would be a piece made for sale, but quickly decided I liked the idea better that it would be something of a “prize.” I did intend from early on that I would indeed sell the originals—that #1000 would be a grand incentive or something like that. Like the golden tickets in Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, I thought I might put a golden seal on the back of one randomly chosen of the portraits—that kind of thing.
What do you have planned for the works when they’re done?
I decided a little later that making a book of the works was something I wanted to do, so that’s definitely going to be happening. I may also be making limited edition giclee prints, available for less than the originals. I certainly won’t try and hide the fact that it is a project intended to gain some exposure and sell some work in the process, although the work will be very affordably priced.
I feel like American movie star Dirty Harold.Are all 999 Borats going to be for sale?
Yep, they are indeed, but I am still working out the logistics. Currently, I am planning on each being $100 for the originals. I do have a philosophy or comfortableness in my work that is in line with Warhol’s Factory, and even more so that of Takashi Murakami, who has a factory in a much realer sense, with hundreds of employees and automated systems in place churning out work.
I may stagger them in sets in an eBay auction or it may be a flat price for all originals, but I am going to be addressing this feature on the website very soon. I recommend people sign-up for the newsletter if they want the first chance to buy them when the works become available. I have also created a screensaver that is available as a free download right now.
What number are you at today?
Approximately 220. I know—it sounds low still, but it is a lot of work and I have recently been able to get back to making them more frequently. I expect it will be about 2 more months until they’ll be finished, and I will also be implementing things like voting for your favourite Borats and the ability to get first dibs on the originals for an affordable price.
What media do you use in creating the Borats?
It, as most of my work is, is a hybrid of digital transfers or output of some kind. Digital images are either printed on a giclee printer or solvent transferred onto primarily fine art paper.
It isn’t a surprise that my work typically is a hybrid of digital techniques and traditional forms. A central dichotomy in my art has been that I have used computers and technology as a core aspect of my art-making practices since I began, and I also have an entrepreneurial element in my attitude and ambition. Yet, I love the tactile act of physically working with materials, painting, and I have a deep love of “the art object” as a singular original physical thing. At the same time, I am fascinated with the antithesis as well—the notion of an artwork existing purely digitally. Or mass produced as replicas or automated variations.
I guess the most extreme example would be the idea of freely distributing an artwork as a desktop image for your computer. It is almost as if the art is theoretical, it exists as bits of data, can be duplicated without limit, move through space and networks, potentially spread vastly in this virtual way, but it is difficult to define quite how it even exists.
What's up with it, vanilla face?
With all the pop culture references out there, why did you choose the Borat character?
To be honest, at first I looked at the selection of Borat as essentially an arbitrary choice. The idea was a pretty random, ridiculous one that may have seemed silly or pointless, but that’s part of what made me like it. However, as is the case in many areas of my art-making, I don’t really know why and choose not to worry about it so much as many of those answers come to me later as I “get to know” the artwork. People will also often point out things that make perfect sense but which I wasn’t reflecting consciously on at the time.
Did others understand your choice?
I posted a little blurb and link about the project on Saatchi’s Your Gallery site and had someone immediately reply that it seems a pretty dumb choice; that Borat was just a stupid bit of pop “debris”; that he certainly wasn’t an icon; that I was wasting my time. I found the response interesting as the fellow had pointed out what probably drew me to Borat in the first place—that he was a good example of a disposable celebrity, I suppose. He’ll probably soon be relegated to the 2015 Edition of Trivial Pursuit or be part of an $800 Jeopardy question.
Have you always incorporated elements of pop culture in your work?
My earliest art making focused more definitively on topics of mass media, consumerism, and the like. It’s perhaps my relationship with this subject matter that makes such a concept attractive to me. I took Media Studies in high school and had been highly affected by the exposure to people like Noam Chomsky and Marshall McLuhan. Overall, I feel my work has grown to become a more inward reflection of that outer world as a whole: more personally psychological yet still connected to the role media and celebrity play in all of our lives.
I think Borat, perhaps more than most other “celebrities,” attracted me because he is such a crafted “character” or art piece unto himself. Borat is largely about is that awkward, un-staged, charming-yet-crass cariacature created by Cohen—he acts almost as a comedian and anthropologist—and how his “planned improv” encounters shed a fair bit of light on Western Culture and how we are taught to act and react on social cue. People relate both to him and his unsuspecting victims, and we feel awkward for them both. It evokes interesting things about human nature that aren’t often so cleverly put on display.
When you chase a dream, especially one with plastic chests, you sometimes do not see what is right in front of you.
How important was your Flickr account to this project?
I am pretty active on and admin a group on pop-surrealism there. I thought, why not create a group and treat it more like an art gallery—just allow my own works and make it a forum where I could add the works as they were completed while continuing to share future details with an audience as I figured out just what I might want to do with this thing. That’s my favourite thing about Flickr and the Web 2.0 stuff in general these days: I can just throw up ideas and work without the same commitment on many levels as in the tangible world, and immediately have an audience for it. I love it, and it’s doing good things for my art and letting me try out ideas I might not have otherwise.
Do you have a particular favourite out of the Borats you’ve created so far?
I definitely have favourites, for different reasons. Some embody the satirical spirit of Borat’s excitement about America; his naïve charm or his crassness. But I haven’t set out to make works that specifically reflect these things outright. Some I like more for their artistic merit outright, while others I like as they connect to his persona in some way. I can’t say I have a single favourite, and there are hundreds yet to go!
I like a very much Korki Buchek. You know Korki Buchek?
Do you know if Sacha Baron Cohen is aware of the project?
I don’t know if he is. I’d certainly be happy for him to know about it and may seek to get in touch with him or send a copy of the book. Of course, it is legally questionable that I do this project in the first place without his permission, but I have joked that he is too busy being sued by everyone else to sue me! I would hope he not take offense, but really I see no moral reason why he would. Hopefully he will find it enjoyable and maybe even buy some portraits!
Is there something about Cohen as an artist that attracted you to his work and felt it compatible with your own?
I am an artist and person generally who is drawn to the absurd; to strange ideas, and I view humour as an intriguing and vital part of human nature. It is in many ways a crutch, yet it is also in many ways spiritual. Humour and the absurd has always been a part of my work, and I can relate and appreciate Cohen on that level.
I get that sense about Cohen that he knows he is revealing things, yet maybe opening up more questions about where we are as a global society now. I guess this is a parallel in a sense that I find appealing in Cohen’s work as Borat especially. He hints at a deeper meaning in his comedy and craft. He subtly reveals things about human nature, and I like my work to do that do.
Spiritual Machines by Our Lady PeaceYou are known for creating the artwork for Our Lady Peace’s Spiritual Machines album. How did that come about?
I was showing work at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition and my work was spotted by Sony Music’s Art Director—I also got my first “gallery exhibit” from that show. I guess she had taken some of my cards and a couple months later I got a message about a potential album cover project. I basically got the job on the spot as they had considered lots of slick photographers and more traditional work, but distinctly wanted to do something unique and different. It was great because I really did have a huge amount of artistic freedom and, not that there weren’t difficult moments and some disagreements, but ultimately it was as close as you could ever hope to just making “art” like usual, but having it be a commercial project.
And their video for “In Repair” came after that.
The video was something that also came up suddenly at the end of an incredibly intense month spent creating a huge amount of artwork for the finished packaging. Raine [Maida] asked if I know anyone who could animate this stuff. There was something ridiculous, like two-and-a-half weeks until it needed to be done, and though I’d done some experimental video work and was learning the tools, I had never done anything remotely near such a project in that medium. But I like to learn by throwing myself into a situation where it counts, and it was needless to say, a very intense, but very exciting period seeing it come together and really work.
I had been through so much and was so drained by the end of the whole month-and-a-half of twenty hour days that I really didn’t know what I had when it was handed into Much Music, literally a minute before the cutoff for that week—truly my style. But after decompressing for a week, it was great to see it climb the charts and get such amazing feedback. When it was nominated for a Juno (as was the packaging) and was up for six Much Music Video Awards, I was so pleased. Then to find out that it actually won the two biggest ones—Best Director and Best Video—I was thrilled and really proud that people had responded so amazingly well to my first attempt.
I want to have a car that attract a woman with shave down below.
You were an Artist in Residence at the Drake. What did that entail?
That was a cool thing, for sure. It was more about the video side of the work I do—the experimental stuff and live video mixing. The technical setup at the Drake for this kind of thing is excellent, actually. They have video feeds running throughout the place, so I could do a live mix in the Underground and it would be routed to multiple screens downstairs, projectors on the main floor and a huge one on the patio up top. I do it in a way very similar to a DJ, but with mini DVD players filled with loops and video clips of my own experimentation and I use a video mixer to combine and manipulate them live. I also ended up doing a TV spot for them which is pretty cool and experimental.
More recently I did a more ambitious thing there with a friend of mine Sol Friedman. As part of the Drake’s NuitBlanche lineup, we did live video and music mixing at the same time. I have been making music for years, at first more as a hobby, and am just now starting to release it for sale via iTunes (details will be on my website soon).
What other projects do you have lined-up?
One big is a project called It actually gives an idea of what my live mixes are like. But the basic premise of this project is that is it is a live, neverending time-based artwork in the form of a streaming media ‘channel’ distributed in the form of a free screensaver. Utilizing QuickTime as a core container technology, I will create an ever-changing and evolving hybrid—essentially a video and audio mix initiated by myself as I add video, VR, flash, net ‘sampled’ live streams, etc. The evolving feed will stream from my server straight to users’ desktops where they may passively or actively experience the ever-changing work.
Another very exciting thing I have been wanting to do for ages is producing canvases with embedded flat panel LCD displays, and the price and technology is now making it feasible. Paint actually edges-up and sometimes over parts of the screen so it is an amazing effect. I have some works up already through an online store I’ve been setting up with my wife, Caroline. I am planning to offer upgradeable content—you’ll be able to buy SD content cards, each with hours of video and audio. Ultimately, I’d like to do something similar where the screen in the painting is directly hooked to the internet and streams fresh content to your painting from my server. I love the idea that you come down for breakfast and look up at your painting and notice that suddenly there is a new character in the lower left and that suddenly the colours have shifted!
Her vajine hang like sleeve of wizard's robe!
Where can someone go if they want to buy some of your prints?
I have a print shop up and running at the online store as well. It is currently limited in scope, but I am aiming to have most of my body of work available in a number of sizes and at affordable price points. I also have a limited edition of 100 copies of my first art book available on the site which features loads of full colour imagery (over 70 works). There will also be prints of Caroline’s artwork and merchandise such as art clocks and shirts with my characters that will be available shortly. It is a venue we are running to both sell our own products, but also things from suppliers we like—creative products that have enriched our lives and that we want to share with others.
In Toronto, Oli shows with Parts Gallery on Queen Street East, and MUSE Gallery on Yonge Street, near Summerhill. On the west coast, he is represented by Gallery Jones in Vancouver.


  • BillyWarhol

    Excellent article + awesome Art Oli*
    Borat is sooooo Funny*
    a true cultual Icon!!
    He looks like Freddy Mercury of Queen in that one print with the yeloow & his Richard Simmons shorts!!
    like the way they’ve displayed a lot of yer Art bewtwixt da Text too!!

  • Gayle Hebbard

    I have long been an admirer of Oli’s work, as well of his intelligent comments and participation on Flikr forums.
    The works produced so far are wonderful. I look forward to seeing the 1000 works when completed.
    The article is excellent and interesting.

  • zunehmen

    Fantastic idea! Images are mad good. It’s astonishing that you can work so fast.

  • paige

    I love Oli’s work, and even more love how ubiquitous he is, always popping up when I least expect. I wish I still had a copy of his book, however.
    Good interview!

  • Gary Arseneau

    If an artist has their artwork scanned and reproduced with the so-called -GICLEE- technology, you would have, at best, a -REPRODUCTION-.
    Therefore, aside the issue of full and honest disclosure of reproductions as -REPRODUCTIONS-, one real concern for “giclee” is the lightfastness issue.
    Up until recently, the giclee reproduction technology only used water-based “dyes” (animal, vegetable or aniline).
    How can you determine if a giclee reproduction has been reproduced using water-based dyes?
    Ask the following question: do the printer, gallery or artist recommend not getting the image wet? Dyes can run if they get wet. (Inks, when dry, do not.) Or do they recommend a protective coating which is another red flag to protect the water-based dyes from running, much less assist in its’ lightfastness.
    On the otherhand, recent technological advances in grinding ink (mineral) down to 4 micons and coating them with clear polyuthyrene allows them to use the same printers to reproduce without clogging the jets which would happen immediately with normal ink. So, by using clear polyuthyrene coated inks, the image once dry will not run if the image should somehow get wet.
    The other benefit with the use of ink instead of dyes is the lightfastness.
    In October 1996, Art Calendar devoted almost an entire published issue to giclee reproduction. The lightfastness issue of dyes used for giclee reproduction were documented from the testing from Group Leader, R&D Paste Inks, Handschy Industries Charles Lakie. In reference to digital dye-based reproductions ie. “giclee,” Charles Lakie wrote: “The difference in fade resistance can be compared to a car (Mel’s Litho) vs. a ceral box (digital editions). The car’s color can withstand any earthly environment and the color will still be there—the color is formulated to last longer than the car itself. The cereal box is formulated to last as long as it takes to put the box of cereal on the store shelves, sell it, put it into a cabinet, take it out only to eat it, and eventually throw it away. There is a mimimal exposure to any type of light, so cheaper pigments are used. However, if by chance the box ended up outdoors under the same conditions as a car, the colors would disappear from the box — this would take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.”
    In closing, whether -GICLEES- are lightfast or not, they should -always- be fully disclosed as -REPRODUCTIONS-.
    Gary Arseneau, artist, printmaker of original stone lithographs, author & scholar

  • Marc Lostracco

    Gary: Hence how giclees are presented in the article:
    …limited edition giclee prints, available for less than the originals…
    Digital images are either printed on a giclee printer or solvent transferred onto primarily fine art paper.
    Nobody—certainly not Oli—is claiming that the giclees he’s offering are originals.

  • Gary Arseneau

    Under U.S. Copyright Law 106A. Rights of Attribution – “shall not apply to any reproduction.”
    Additionally, under U.S. Copyright Law 103. “Subject matter of copyright: Compilations and derivative works,” in part, it states: “The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work.”
    In otherwords, under U.S. Copyright Law, reproductions cannot be “attributed” to a living artist, much less a dead one
    Subsequently, any “derivatives” ie. reproductions of an artist’s original artwork and those reproduction rights, under U.S. Copyright Law, would be owned by the “printer” who reproduced it.
    Therefore, unless the artist had those “reproduction rights” reassigned in writing back to them from the “printer” who reproduced them, those same individuals would have the right to reproduced more without the permission or knowledge of the artist.
    Of course, if the artist understood their rights under U.S. Copyright Law and had all “reproductions rights” reassigned back to them from these individuals who reproduced their original artwork, then that would be a written admission that they knew from the very beginning that they were “reproductions” instead of using ambigous and vague terms like “giclee print.”
    This perspective is confirmed by the PRINTING TRADE CUSTOMS (copy below) published by the Printing Industries of America, Inc. that documents their understanding that if a printer reproduces the work they own the tools ie. plates, negatives and the like used to reproduce it.
    In closing, I hope the enclosed empowers everyone to clearly understand that without full and honest disclosure of reproductions as -REPRODUCTIONS-, instead of once again an ambigous and vague term like “giclee print,” the consumer may not be able to give informed consent on whether they truly want to purchase what at best is nothing more than a -POSTER- that may be as lightfast as a cereal box.
    Gary Arseneau

  • Oli Goldsmith

    Hi Gary,
    I’ll chime in for a minute here as I appreciate the topic and it is one of interest to me as an artist who takes my craft seriously, and especially as one who works with merging digital and traditional methods, but I believe you may be misinterpreting some of what I have said and I want to clarify.
    These works are created using a range of media and on a range of surfaces. Some are on canvas, some are on acid free fine art paper, some (well, one) is on a fedex box! I am not claiming that they are a body of original ‘giclees’.
    There is lots of paint, oil pastel, chalk pastel, India Ink etc. involved in conjunction with a few methods of digial transfers and/or printing techniques in the original works. But that is a case where a simple decision is not limiting me creatively.
    When you say ” you would have, at best, a -REPRODUCTION (with Giclee Prints)” it brings up an interesting point, as a number of works in this series involve using my Epson R2400 using their 8-Colour K3 Inks which are then drawn on, painted over and manipulated in many ways. Surely this is not a reproduction.
    However, at the same time, ironically enough some of the gicleé editions I most likely will offer of these works could in occasional cases in fact last longer than the original! (ie. you may have noticed the fedex box one above in the article, it is on an actual fedex box, but it wouldn’t be as effective an art piece if it weren’t).
    Robert Rauschenberg is a very key influence for me and his art is a good example of why I see these concerns of longevity as both valid and potentially crippling. I try to strike as fine a balance as I can.
    Many ideas simply couldn’t be realized if you were only concerned that a work would look precisely as it does in 200 or 300 years time as it does now. But should it? From an art market point of view Raushenberg’s work is steadily increasing in value while (unfortunately) much of it has some degradation due to the nature of many techniques he pioneered. Techniques however that span multiple art movements and opened doors and whole new ways of thinking about and approaching art.
    These concerns surely are of at least equal value as the concern over their longevity. Still, I agree not all art pieces age like fine wine. A collector wants to know that a piece won’t have deteriorated in 30 years time to a faint
    As I mentioned in the interview, these kinds of questions and a love of both sides of a seeming contradiction are part of what motivate me. Can a reproduction potentially be ‘better than than that which it is reproducing?’ At the end of the day technology is emerging in such ways that we can’t even grasp or wrap our head around what will be everyday concepts even 20 years from now.
    I don’t doubt that it will be entirely possible to ‘mend art’, even rebuilding it molecule by molecule, and that sometime soon after the idea of that amazing feat is accomplished it will already seem antiquated and trivial like a ham radio does to us today. Both our consciousness and technology will have changed our experience to such a degree that wondering if a print will last 70 or 120 years won’t be a big concern. (Nor likely the whole notion of a print for that matter, but I still sure love making them in the meantime!).
    Sorry for the lengthy response, but it is topic that raises a great number of issues I find quite interesting to explore.

  • Gary Arseneau

    Original “works of visual artwork” are created exclusively by artists. This is confirmed by Works of Art, Collector’s Pieces Antiques, and Other Cultural Property * An Informed Compliance Publication * U.S. Customs April 2004 which in part, states: “The expression ‘original engravings, prints and lithographs’ means impressions produced directly, in black and white or in color, of one or of several plates wholly executed by hand by the artist, irrespective of the process or of the material employed by him, but excluding any mechanical or photomechanical process.”
    On page 350 in Ralph Mayer’s HarperCollins Dictionary of Art Terms & Techniques the term “reproduction” is defined as: “A general term for any copy, likeness, or counterpart of an original work of art or of a photograph, done in the same medium as the original or in another, and done by someone other than the creator of the original.”
    In the otherwords, if a reproduction is enhanced with other mediums, you have a unique reproduction. That doesn’t mean that unique reproduction is not attractive or of potential value. But once a reproduction, always a reproduction.
    Respectfully, future advances in technology will not change that fact.
    In closing, if artists, dealers, museums, auction houses and others, not to mention the public, allow the the abuse of definitions of terms and their applications to go unchallenged in our art industry then living and dead artists will potentially have their true legacy arrogantly and deceptively distorted usually for substantial monetary considerations.
    Respectfully, I hope everyone will consider the enclosed in the spirit of full and honest disclosure.
    Gary Arseneau

  • Roxanne Bielskis

    Gary, do you have any Canadian copyright and attribution law to cite? We’re not in the U.S., and saying “close enough” seems a lazy fallback for someone so dedicated to slugging Oli in the stomach.
    I’m so curious why this post launched you into a frenzy like this.

  • Roxanne

    Oh, now I know what sparked the frenzy — it’s kinda your (misplaced) mission to misunderstand the nature of art!

  • Oli Goldsmith

    Hi Gary,
    Thanks for the information, though admittedly I find it a little confusing in the case of my project. For one thing, if I were to be doing reproductions (which is not something I had determined I definitely would be at this stage) it would be me doing it with my own printer (which does in fact produce what has been shown to be quite long lasting images when combined with the right paper or canvas (with the canvas I use it has been tested and rated at over 130 years. It uses the highest quality inks that Epson provides at this moment in time).
    But to back up from that question for a moment and assume there are no reproductions made, that there is only one image. Please understand that the image in the cases where digital output is involved is a unique work of my creation by that point already. I am not taking someone else’s picture or piece of art, pressing print and then drawing/painting on it. In those cases where I have used the computer as my main art making tool as an initial stage(some of the work in this series include 100% pastel and ink drawings too) , how is it a reproduction if I print it once and then proceed to work on it further with traditional techniques?
    I am still creating an original work of art from start to finish and there is no third party involved in output services of any kind along the way. How is the end result not an original work of art? As you can see from the samples in the article each is very different from the next.
    If I were taking an Andy Warhol type approach to what I was doing I see how what you are saying would apply, but whereas him (or more likely a third party in his case!) silkscreening a found image or PR shot as is, by the time I am at the output stage I have already created a radically unique composition and then further the work with applying paint, pastel, etc. until I deem it complete.

  • Jonny the Monkey

    I am Jonny the Monkey – number 1 celebrity in all Kazakhstan (as Borat hisself admit in many interview). Borat still number 4 most famous, even after great success of movie film…
    Jonny is good friend Borat, and even open show with him on “Saturday Nights Live” this year, so very happy to see Canadian Eskimo painter make many picture paintings to celebrate Borat!
    Jonny actually sign up to Oli site in hopes win #1000 life size Borat painting. If win, will use as target to practice for Kazakh Olympics potato throwing event!
    Right now Jonny practice by throw potatos at Gypsy assistant, but already put in hospital once which affect Jonny’s internet writings. :)
    So Jonny keep fingers, toes, and eyeballs crossed in hope of great success in win painting contest!
    Chenquieh, and thanks you for article!
    NOTE: this comment was “hand signed” by Jonny the Monkey to his gypsy assistant Batyr, who then translated and typed Jonny’s words here.

  • Oli Goldsmith

    Hey there,
    thanks for the enthusiasm I’ve been receiving about my art project! You can look forward to a major overhaul of the site in the next few days with added features like voting on the artworks.
    I wanted to add a few comments about the project to help clarify where I am coming from with what I admit seems (and is) a tad nutty of an undertaking! :)
    The excessive nature of the project in sheer volume is something that aims to reflect on the excesses of mass consumer culture in part. It is also clearly following an Andy Warhol type of pop-art tradition, but with the distinct difference in that each takes a radically different approach to its form and presentation with each work.
    This is something that I do (not only to avoid hours of monotony! :) to try and reflect the trend in mass culture and media towards a strong consumer yearning to express individualism within an increasingly cookie cutter society.
    Whether in the form of custom cell phone skins, a unique shade of veneer on your condo kitchen counter, a clip-art decorated myspace page or one of the recent corporate attempts to cater to this demand ala mod options on new cars (mini cooper), etc.
    I don’t view this as a ‘bad’ thing overall as the writing is on the wall so to speak (with all things web 2.0, something this very project grew out of on Flickr) that Alvin Toffler’s predictions from “The Third Wave” about how consumers would soon also be the producers of their content and so-called “Mass Media” would become more micro-casting to increasingly varied niche audiences. In this sense I am all for it, but I find the phenomenon of corporations giving what is essentially the illusion of choice with very narrow parameters in which to carve out an individual image! (ie. you can have any colour you want so long as it is yellow, red or green).
    I wanted to expand a little more on where I am coming from in taking on the piece and hope this provides some more background.
    This project also is very much about using the net as a means to allow an audience to follow the progression of a work over time! In trying to make that aspect as engaging as possible I’ve put together a pretty cool custom screensaver (you can grab it free on the site) that updates with new Borats on a regular basis with a live feed – an idea I take much further with another project of mine currently shortlisted for a commission:
    For more info on the Borat Project check out the site at and for a little more info on me and my work in a broader scope check out my ‘hub’ site at
    If you have any questions or feedback about the project or my other work I’m happy to explain my thoughts so get in touch!
    Oli Goldsmith

  • cm_raul

    MAd idea but some of them are great!

  • Oli Goldsmith

    Thanks (on both counts! :)
    I Just Wanted To Let People Know that the site for the Project has been updated with a pretty big overhaul and there are new portraits to check out too.
    Definitely Check Out
    if you haven’t yet or if you haven’t in the last few days! Lots of new stuff in place, and new stuff on the way. cheers,