Friday, June 28, 2013

Life Through Nan Goldin's Lens

Nan Goldin (1953), American photographer noted for visual narratives detailing her own world of addictive and sexual activities.

After leaving home at age 13, Goldin lived in foster homes and attended an alternative school in Lincoln, Mass. Suspicious of middle-class myths of romantic love between the sexes and mourning a sister who took her own life in 1964, Goldin sought a substitute family for her own blood relations. In doing so, she became part of a group of alienated young men and women involved with drugs, sex, and violence.

Much influenced by cinéma verité and no doubt aware of the work of American photographer Larry Clark, Goldin took up photography about 1971; her first published works (1973) were black-and-white images of transvestites and transsexuals. In 1974 she began to study art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she embarked on an enormous portrait of her life, making hundreds of colour transparencies of herself and her friends lying or sitting in bed, engaged in sexual play, recovering from physical violence against them, or injecting themselves with drugs. Her involvement in this hermetic world was revealed in a diaristic narrative sequence of often unfocused but strongly colored transparencies arranged as a slide show entitled The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1981). Accompanied by a musical score that mixed rock, blues, opera, and reggae, the presentation was initially shown in nightclubs and eventually in galleries. Goldin continued to work on this project throughout the 1980s, and it was reproduced in 1986 in book form.

Continuing to photograph drag queens in the 1990s, she also created a series of images called—in reference to Edward Steichen’s humanistic and influential “Family of Man” exhibition of 1955—The Family of Nan, 1990–92, in which she documented her friends’ AIDS-related deaths. She photographed Japanese youths while traveling in Asia, and in 1995 she published these images in the book Tokyo Love: Spring Fever 1994. In 1996–97 the Whitney Museum of American Art presented a retrospective exhibition of her work.
"My work originally came from the snapshot aesthetic…. Snapshots are taken out of love and to remember people, places, and shared times. They’re about creating a history by recording a history." She said of her work.
Self-portrait on the train, Germany, 1992

Susan in the buggy, Provincetown, Mass, 1976

Lynne Tillman in the Horseshoe Bar, also called 7B, NY, 1978

Joana laughing, L’Hotel. Paris, 1999

Nan and Brian in bed, NYC, 1983

Cookie at Tin Pan Alley, NYC, 1983

Bruno smoking a joint (Valerie’s legs), 2001

David in bed, Leipzig, Germany, 1992

Max at Sharon’s apartment under photo of his mother, Cookie, 1998

French Chris at the drive-in, NJ 1979

Dieter with the tulips, Munich, 1984

Brian on the phone, New York, 1981

Siobhan with a cigarette, Berlin, 1994

Amanda in the mirror, Berlin, 1992

Self-portrait in Blue Bathroom, Berlin, 1991

(Images © Nan Goldin. Infomation from Encyclopædia Britannica)

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