Who is Nan Goldin?
First as a teenager in Boston in the 1960s, then in New York starting in the 1970s, Nan Goldin always took intensely personal, candid, sexual and transgressive pictures of her family, friends and lovers. Nan Goldin's work is autobiographical, documenting the social situations around her, such as the new-wave post-punk scene, the gay subculture, the LGBTQI+ community, the HIV crisis in big cities and the relationship with drug consumption. heroin and opiates. Learn more about the life and work of American photographer Nan Goldin in this article.
“The camera connects me to the experience and clarifies what is going on between me and the subject. Some people believe that the photographer is always the last one invited to the party, but this is my party, I threw it.” — NAN GOLDIN
The Career of Nan Goldin
Nan Goldin was born in Washington, DC, in 1953, and was introduced to photography at the age of fifteen by a teacher who distributed Polaroid cameras to students at the progressive Satya Community School in Boston. Raised in Boston in a culturally privileged Jewish family, Nan Goldin graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Tufts University in 1978. In the early 1970s, she began taking black and white photographs of her friends in the Boston transvestite community and had her first solo exhibition at Project, Inc., Boston in 1973. She received a BFA from Tufts University in 1977 and an Additional Fifth Grade Certificate in 1978. As she progressed through school, she began to use Cibachrome glossy prints. After moving to New York City, the setting for many of his most famous photographs, he quickly became involved in the downtown New Wave scene, demonstrating slideshows of his images set to music at punk rock venues such as the Mudd Club and later at venues of art. The first performance, in 1979, was at a nightclub in New York, and his richly colored, snapshot-like photographs were soon heralded as a groundbreaking contribution to fine art photography. "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency" - the name she gave her ever-evolving show - turned into a 45-minute multimedia presentation featuring over 900 photographs, accompanied by a musical soundtrack and published as an award-winning book.
“My work has always come from empathy and love.” — NAN GOLDIN
Human rights activist Nan Goldin uses photography as a political instrument of witness and social transformation. The series “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency” (1980–86), contained snapshots of loving or abusive couples, drug addiction and intimate details of the artist's life. The intimacy with the people she photographed, capturing herself and friends in moments of physical, emotional and sexual vulnerability, established Nan Goldin as a great photographer. "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency" (1980-1986), became his best-known work, having been shown for the first time at the Whitney Biennale in 1985. It was also presented at film festivals, such as the Edinburgh and Berlin festivals ( 1985 and 1986, respectively). Many of the people portrayed in "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency" eventually died in the early 1990s, and in 1988 Goldin herself was admitted to rehab. Nan Goldin continued to openly document her life, yet incorporated her hospital experiences into her work. Over time, his photographs moved from depictions of destructive youthful abandonment to scenes of fatherhood and domesticity in increasingly international settings. In 1994 he published Tokyo Love, a series of images of young Japanese women, in collaboration with photographer Nobuyoshi Araki. In addition, Nan Goldin has also recently created photographs of luminous landscapes that evoke associations with German Romantic painters such as Caspar David Friedrich.
The Influence and Retrospectives of Nan Goldin
Goldin's numerous solo exhibitions include a mid-career retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1996) and Le Feu Follet, a traveling retrospective organized by the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris (2001). In 1995 he made a film for the BBC, I'll Be Your Mirror, with Edmund Coulthard and Ric Colon. Goldin received the Englehard Award from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston (1986), the Photographic Book Prize of the Year from Les Rencontres d'Arles (1987), the Camera Austria Prize for Contemporary Photography (1989), the Mother Jones Documentary Photography Award (1990), Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (1991) and Hasselblad Award (2007). In 1991, she received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and was Artist in Residence at the DAAD in Berlin.
His work has been widely exhibited, often in site-specific installations: his video Sisters, Saints, and Sibyls was shown at La Chapelle de la Salpêtrière for a month; his exhibition Scopophilia was part of Patrice Chéreau's special program at the Louvre; and in 2019, an exhibition of site-responsive photographs opened in Versailles. The Ballad of Sexual Dependency was performed live at the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern in London in 2008, and the slideshow was installed in the exhibition. Four Decades of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from September 2008 to March 2009. In 2017, MoMA presented the piece in its original 35mm format. In 2017, Goldin co-founded the group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), to try to address the ongoing drug war crisis, targeting the pharmaceutical companies that profit from it. In 2022, Moderna Museet in Stockholm opened an exhibition of six slideshows and video installations spanning his entire career. He currently lives and works in New York, Paris and London.