Jon Rafman

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Rafman in 2013

Jon Rafman (born 1981) is a Canadian artist, filmmaker, and essayist. His work centers around the emotional, social and existential impact of technology on contemporary life. His artwork has gained international attention and was exhibited in 2015 at Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (Montreal)[1] and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.[2] He is widely known for exhibiting found images from Google Street View in his online artwork 9-Eyes (2009-ongoing).[3][4]


Rafman was born in Montreal, Canada. He holds an M.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a B.A. in Philosophy and Literature from McGill University. He lives in Montreal.


Rafman giving a lecture in Moscow, 2012

Rafman's work focuses on technology and digital media, often using narrative to emphasize the ways in which they connect users back to society and history. Much of his work focuses on melancholy in modern social interactions, communities and virtual realities (primarily Google Earth, Google Street View and Second Life), while still bringing light to the beauty of them in a manner sometimes inspired by Romanticism. His videos and art utilize personal moments intended to reveal how pop culture ephemera and subcultures shape individual desires, and will often define those individuals in return.

Kool-Aid Man in Second Life[edit]

Rafman's Kool-Aid Man in Second Life project consists of films and participatory tours around the virtual universe of Second Life, which is hosted by his avatar, a 3D render of the Kool-Aid Man. Rafman conducted these tours live, inviting audience members to take part in the exploration of the virtual world as he guided and contextualized the experience [5] Kool-Aid Man in Second life is a quasi-ethnographic tour of the wildly varied fantasies invented and pursued by denizens of the web’s murkier corners.[6] Rafman describes this project as an exploration of new communities that formed as the internet became a ubiquitous aspect of modern life.[7]

Collaboration with Oneohtrix Point Never[edit]

In September 2013, Rafman collaborated with Brooklyn-based experimental musician Daniel Lopatin, better known by his stage name Oneohtrix Point Never, on a music video for Still Life to accompany the release of R Plus Seven on Warp Records.[8] The two later collaborated to create a two-part music video for Sticky Drama, from Lopatin's 2015 album Garden of Delete.[9]

Nine Eyes of Google Street View[edit]

In 2008, Rafman started Nine Eyes of Google Street View, a long-term archival photo project which uses screenshots of Google Street View images as its source.[10] These images from across the world are arranged in a massive database and published in books, on blogs and as prints for his various exhibitions.[11] Rafman later began to keep an ongoing Tumblr blog where he would post his Google Street View images.[12]

Dream Journal[edit]

In 2016, Rafman's computer animated feature-length film Dream Journal premiered at the Sprüth Magers gallery in Berlin.[13] Inspired by Rafman's habit of recording and animating his dreams, the film through a series of dream episodes explores the effects that technology and the internet have on the human psyche. Rafman has called the process of working on the film a form of "worldbuilding" with the desire to create a Boschian-like vision of our current hellscape. [14][15][16][17] Its musical score was created by Oneohtrix Point Never and James Ferraro.[13][17]


Jon Rafman’s oeuvre has been situated within the Post-Internet art movement. [18] He has risen to acclaim with his project Nine Eyes of Google Street View, [19] [20] [21] which developed a distinctly post-internet approach to photography. [22] His work has been included in numerous prestigious international biennials, including the 58th Venice Biennale, [23] 13th Lyon Biennale, [24] 9th Berlin Biennale, [25] and Manifesta 11. [26] In 2015, the City of Montreal and the Contemporary Art Galleries Association awarded Rafman the Prix-Pierre-Ayot prize for emerging artists. [27] Rafman represented Quebec twice as a finalist in the competition for the 2015 and 2018 Sobey Art Award. [28] [29] In 2018, Parisian fashion house Balenciaga commissioned Rafman to create an immersive LED tunnel for their Spring-Summer 2019 show.[30] [31] Rafman is represented by art galleries Sprüth Magers (Berlin, Los Angeles, London) and Seventeen (London). [32]

In July 2020, allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse of power were made against him on an Instagram account. In the wake of these accounts, three major museums suspended planned Rafman exhibits and his Montreal gallery broke off its relationship with him.[33][34][35] The Instagram account which first published the accusations was later deleted. Jon Rafman has categorically denied these allegations.[36] The account released a statement saying "We are disheartened that this is the reaction to opening up a space to publicly address experiences of abuse."[34] The response of the museums sparked controversy as the nature of the allegations seemed unsubstantial to critics.[37][38]


Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • Annals of Time Lost, Future Gallery, Berlin, April 2013[39]
  • A Man Digging, Seventeen Gallery, London, May 2013[40]
  • You Are Standing in an Open Field, Zach Feuer Gallery New York, September 2013[41]
  • Jon Rafman, Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Montréal, June 2015[42]
  • I have ten thousand compound eyes and each is named suffering, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, May 2016[43]
  • Il Viaggiatore Mentale, Palazzina dei Giardini, Modena, September 2018[44]

Group exhibitions[edit]

Publications with contributions by Rafman[edit]


  1. ^ "Jon Rafman | Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal". Retrieved 2016-05-08.
  2. ^ "Jon Rafman: I have ten thousand compound eyes and each is named suffering". Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  3. ^ "The Nine Eyes of Google Street View: a photo project by Jon Rafman". February 21, 2012 – via
  4. ^ Guardiola, Ingrid (2018). L'ull i la navalla (in Catalan). Arcadia. ISBN 9788494717475.
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  8. ^ Valentine, Ben (June 11, 2014). "Jon Rafman's Not-So-Still Life of a Digital Betamale". Hyperallergic. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
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  13. ^ a b Rafferty, Penny (October 6, 2017). "Play // Dream Journal: An Interview with Jon Rafman". Berlin Art Link. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Freeman, Nate; Alexander Forbes (June 12, 2018). "10 Must-See Works at Art Basel Unlimited". Artsy. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  16. ^ Bockowski, Piotr (November 1, 2019). "Venice Biennale 2019: Jon Rafman: Dream Journal". This Is Tomorrow. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  17. ^ a b "Fondazione Modena Arti Visive". e-flux journal. September 17, 2018. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
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  33. ^ "Three Museums Have Cancelled Planned Jon Rafman Exhibitions Following Allegations of Sexual Misconduct". artnet News. 2020-07-28. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  34. ^ a b Bahr, Sarah (28 July 2020). "Hirshhorn Suspends Jon Rafman Show After Allegations of Sexual Misconduct". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  35. ^ Liscia, Valentina Di (29 July 2020). "Three Museums Suspend Jon Rafman Exhibitions Following Allegations of "Predatory Behavior"". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  36. ^ "STATEMENT". Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  37. ^ "Kommentar zum Kunstverein: Nicht wegducken!". HAZ – Hannoversche Allgemeine (in German). Retrieved 2021-04-13.
  38. ^ Pofalla, Boris (2020-08-07). "Jon Rafman: Die Frauen fühlten sich benutzt. Das reicht für ein Urteil". DIE WELT. Retrieved 2021-04-13.
  39. ^ "FUTURE GALLERY". Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  40. ^ "Jon Rafman, A Man Digging - Seventeen". Seventeen. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  41. ^ "Jon Rafman: You Are Standing In An Open Field | Zach Feuer". Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  42. ^ "Jon Rafman". MAC Montréal. Retrieved 2020-09-22.
  43. ^ "Jon Rafman: I have ten thousand compound eyes and each is named suffering". Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  44. ^ "JON RAFMAN. THE MENTAL TRAVELLER". Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  45. ^ "JOHAN BERGGREN GALLERY". Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  46. ^ Rosenberg, Karen (2010-10-21). "'Free,' at New Museum, Explores Internet as Public Art Scene". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  47. ^ "Speculations on Anonymous Materials". Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  48. ^ a b c "Jon Rafman – MAC Montréal". MAC Montréal. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  49. ^ "Jon Rafman". Palais de Tokyo EN. 2016-05-26. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  50. ^ Karl-Magnus Johansson (2013), Communicating the Archive : Physical Migration, The Regional State Archives in Gothenburg. ISBN 978-91-979866-3-2

External links[edit]