Nan Goldin is an American photographer famous for her intimate photographs of herself and a circle of friends that include members of the LGBTQ community. Her works convey empathy for this group in a time when such individuals were widely ostracised or treated with hostility by mainstream media. After leaving home at 13, Goldin attended Satya Community School in Massachusetts where a teacher introduced her to photography. At the time of this introduction she was recovering from the suicide of an older sibling and experimenting with drugs.Read More
Excited after discovering the counter-cultural worlds of film-makers Andy Warhol, Federico Fellini and Jack Smith, Goldin went to Boston and began documenting the lives of the gay and trans communities in intimate domestic surroundings. Her first solo show was in 1973. In 1974 she studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Later, she began The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, where hundreds of slides were given a musical soundtrack and projected in nightclubs. The slides were later turned into a book (1986). From the 1980s on she did similar projects while living in Berlin, Bangkok, Tokyo, Paris and New York. She created suites of photographs that included her own coterie of lovers and friends that by then had become a large extended family. By the 1990s, however, many of her subjects had died from AIDS or drug overdoses. Goldin's work is now considered decades ahead of its time, especially considering the current political shifts in the art world and wider global communities.
When she documents drag queens putting on their makeup, friends shooting up or herself embracing a lover, Goldin introduces a sense of participation to her snapshots—an inclusiveness into the work that theoretically involves the viewer empathetically, instead of treating the viewer as an outsider voyeuristically looking in. She arguably mixes a non-judgemental viewpoint with a feeling of alienation, sensitively revealing what is normally kept private or hidden.
Goldin has had numerous international solo and group exhibitions. Solo shows include: Weekend Plans, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2017); blood on my hands, Matthew Marks Gallery, New York (2016); Recent Photographs, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (1999); The Other Side 1972–1993, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York (1993); The Cookie Portfolio 1976–89, Photographic Resource Center, Boston (1990). Goldin has also had solo exhibitions at Whitney Museum of American Art (1996), Poste Restante, C/O Berlin (2009), Fantastic Tales: The Photography of Nan Goldin, Palmer Museum of Art, Pennsylvania (2005); The Devil's Playground, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2001); Le Feu Follet, Centre Pompidou (2001); and Nan Goldin, Portland Museum of Art (2017). Her books include Tokyo Love: Spring Fever 1994 (1995). She has also made a film for the BBC with Edmund Coulthard, I'll Be Your Mirror (1995), and in 2007 received the Hasselblad Award.
John Hurrell | Ocula | 2018