Nan Goldin (US)
Image: Nan Goldin, My Parents on their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary, 1989. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery, New York City © Nan Goldin.
Born 1953, Washington DC, USA
Lives and works New York, USA
The camera is as much a part of my everyday life as talking or eating or sex.
Emerging from the artist’s own life and relationships, and including herself as a subject, Nan Goldin’s work has transformed the role of photography in contemporary art. Her photographs and moving-image works address essential themes of identity, love, sexuality, addiction, and mortality. Uniting art and activism, Goldin has confronted the HIV/AIDS epidemic since the 1980s and today brings international attention to the overdose crisis.
Born in Washington, DC, in 1953, Goldin grew up outside of Boston. She left home at age fourteen, and at sixteen enrolled in the Satya Community School in Lincoln, Massachusetts, where she acquired her first camera. Goldin’s early black-and-white photographs, which convey the beauty, vulnerability, and joy of her friends in Boston’s transgender community, were initially shown in her first solo exhibition in 1973 at Project, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts. Attending Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts beginning in 1974, she would start working principally with Cibachrome prints and 35mm slides, taking photographs in saturated color.
Relocating to New York in 1978, Goldin began documenting members of her chosen family in a milieu of New Wave clubs, No Wave cinema, and post-Stonewall gay culture. Capturing moments of revelry and friendship, intimacy and loss, she titled this body of work The Ballad of Sexual Dependency after a song from The Threepenny Opera (1928) by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. Constantly evolving, it grew into a multimedia presentation of almost seven hundred slides accompanied by an eclectic soundtrack. Initially projected in nightclubs, it was included in The Times Square Show in 1980, the Whitney Biennial in 1985, and countless other museum exhibitions around the world. It was published by Aperture in 1986 as the first of Goldin’s many books and was recently reprinted for the twenty-first time.