Essay about Nan Goldin

Draft 5

As someone who has difficulty connecting with people and the world while desiring emotional connections, I am always attracted to artwork exploring interpersonal relationships and desire. Being a photographer is a way to understand myself and the world in order to relate better to the world. Themes of emotions or situations we cannot fully control mainly inspired by personal experiences run through my own research and photographic practice. This is also true of Nan Goldin’s photography work, which has left an impression on me since the beginning of my practice. Photography is also Goldin’s way to deal with relationships and is closely related to her growth. This fits my admiration for the artist exposing herself or her life, as well as her attention to content rather than technical skills involved in the work, and their significance with regard to uncontrollable emotions or situations.

I start the essay with an introduction to Goldin’s key methodology and the sensitive observation shown in her photos. Based on three of Goldin’s works from the past forty years I then analyze Goldin’s practice in relation to photography field and the development of her work in terms of the techniques and the content, as well as the relationship between her photographs and herself. I conclude the essay with a discussion about the effective skills and mediums in her work.

Goldin’s approach to photography and her ability to notice what others cannot see feature in her work, playing an important part in expressing deep emotions or difficult situations. Her photographs come directly from intimate relationships in her daily life, picturing subjects from youth to death, producing powerful emotions while combined in orders in photobooks or slideshows by showing changes of same subjects including Goldin herself throughout years. She uses film cameras without digital post editing not only achieving purpose of a visual diary, but also generating a deeper connection between herself and her work.[1] Raw and unprotected photos distinguish them from staged or calculated scenes, establishing Goldin in the male-dominated photography field in the late 1970s.[2] Although the content and the style of her practice look like a private documentation, the overlooked details, hidden emotions or psychological states Goldin captures, give her photos powerful sense of art and life. As Krystal Grow describes in Eden and After and early practice:

Goldin is seeking out the secrets children seem to hold, and much like she exposed the raw and unnerving inner lives of drag queens and drug addicts, here she hopes to reveal something about children that is both deeply hidden and transparently evident.[3]

Luc Sante also sees Goldin as ‘a portraitist of souls. She looks through the eyes of her subjects, in both directions, and her purview additionally takes in friends, lovers, artifacts, clothing, rooms: the soul’s context.’[4]Her photography is a mirror that reflects viewers’ experiences. The power of observation and compassion that lead to her photographing those fleeting moments instantly, can hardly separate from the artist’s own life, which in return contributes to the efficiency of her work.

Evidence of the way in which the artist exposes herself that well expresses uncontrollable emotions or situations can be clearly seen in The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1986. It is a slideshow as well as a photobook about her friends, almost all of whom lived with her and many died from AIDS, honestly showing her friends’ and her intimate life to convey problems in sexual and emotional relationships. The origin of this work goes back to Goldin’s childhood when her sister committed suicide as a teenager. Her family was revisionist, trying to hide truth from others including Goldin, which is why she thinks revisionism is dangerous. Therefore, Goldin took pictures as proof of life, ‘experiences that no one could revise’ when she was ‘dealing with the difficulty of coupling’ and ‘maintaining intimacy’. This strengthens power of vivid emotions and the undeniable issues many people have faced, as Goldin and her friends have, about sexual dependency one gets from another person who doesn’t quite fit, and the difficulty in relating.[5] High saturation and flash used indoors form a contrast between urgency of problems and vulnerability of Goldin’s closed small world.

As her defining work, both techniques and content of The Ballad have had a significant impact on photography field. It was a radical photobook besides Larry Clark’s Tulsa, which had a huge influence on Goldin.[6] Itappeared odd on art scene when photography was seen as closely related to painting. Its presentation as a slideshow made ‘a revolutionary association’ with ‘the language’ of film. Attention to The Ballad was paid ‘in Europe before’ America, where ‘the postmodern photography of Cindy Sherman and Laurie Simmons’ was prevailing. It has been compared to Diane Arbus’s photographs on a visual aspect. However, their content and purpose are dissimilar, because Goldin’s photographs are ‘anti-ideological’.[7] Eloquent images of addicts inspired heroin-chic photos popularized in fashion magazines such as Detour and ‘advertising campaigns like those for Calvin Klein’.[8] However, Goldin hates that kind of glamorization and she never took pictures of people taking drugs to make them fashionable while it is about honesty and trust.[9] The work is also a model for pictures by a character in film High Art.[10] Her photographs influenced Ryan McGinley.[11] Goldin has developed and achieved the recognition for intimate snapshot style, which makes her a representative in this specific area and also a controversial photographer in a wider photography field.

Despite the success of The Ballad has had over the years, the initial public response did not accept Goldin as ‘a good photographer’ in terms of her lack of technique especially in the mainly male dominated world of photography where technical skills were almost necessary for ‘making art’.[12] It is the seemingly casualness and exposure of Goldin herself in The Ballad, which creates a straightforward effect by showing daily reality. This cannot be produced to the same effect by taking care of various technical aspects at the same time. Taking Nan and Brian in bed NYC 1983 (Figure 1) for example, this is a sufficient photo because of the contrasts in this very moment of the post-sex cigarette and the subjects of Goldin herself and her boyfriend.[13] As Angela Anderson highlights, Brian seems ‘unavailable’ while Nan’s gaze shows her dependency and her ‘doubt’ about his response.[14] The intimacy of sex in contrast with the separation after sex generates a sense of loss. The light is so soft while the gap between the couple seems solid and almost tactile, indicating fragility of this relationship. To further show the contrast, Brian may be better positioned in a longer distance to the camera. However, the delicate chemistry conveyed by Goldin’s honesty would likely be broken, which is core of its appealing invitation for viewers to relate themselves. Therefore, technique is not an essential or the only factor to evaluate a photographer but the emotional link and energy generated by content can matter more for photos. Goldin’s emphasis on content is a key element of her being a good photographer, which is shown through years of practice.

Figure 1. Taken from https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659.

In over fifteen years period, Goldin has broadened the range of content in her work, for which The Devil’s Playground, 2003 is an outstanding example. It is a photobook divided by themes with texts in between to extract topics it covers. Besides again exposing her friends’ relationships, Goldin turns her vision more to the outside world technically and emotionally. The work extends Goldin’s focus on those usually estranged from society; AIDS patients, heroin addicts including herself, and urban subcultures, as Brooke McCord says, ‘the consequences of their American freedom’.[15] Inclusion of her parents is significant to tell Goldin’s growing openness, based on the history that Goldin ran away from her family at a young age to build her extended family with characters in The Ballad. Her images have become more infused with natural light, rare in The Ballad, although taken no matter what the light is.[16] Goldin’s world is broader and softer, not only constrained in small and dark rooms. However, due to her controversial subject matter, The Devil’s Playground is criticized as vaguely distasteful as a guide to suffering for people not suffering.[17] Whilst it shows difficult problems, it also shows the way people work problems out, unlike The Ballad where Goldin only puts forward problems in relationships without a solution. This was a record of her creating herself through art, carrying Goldin’s concern about new generation’s sex safety.[18]

Since The Ballad, Goldin has developed strength and criticality in her life, influencing her photographs to be more positive and responsible. In the relationship with her photos, Goldin has gained a more active and directive voice where she inputs vitality. Taking Simon and Jessica, faces half lit, Paris, 2001 (Figure 2) in The Devil’s Playground for instance, Simon is Goldin’s nephew, which is surprising with Goldin’s ability of removing discomfort of completely exposed subjects, even though they are a family belonging to different generations.[19] This is a heart-warming and intimate capture, full of sweetness and connection. Only the couple’s faces are lit in the center, strengthening sense of a whole they build together to exist in world consisting of encounters they have to deal with. Goldin is not trapped in her small world anymore while she has started to take responsibility as a family member or a mature friend in others’ world, activating louder voice of her photographs to viewers at different ages. Therefore, I argue that it is not a guide to suffering but an exposure of suffering and struggle people experience and the power and strength they hold or gain to live against difficulties.

Figure 2. Taken from https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/.

About fifteen years later again, Memory Lost, 2019 (Figure 3), is a digital slideshow ‘recounting a life lived through a lens of drug addiction’. This is a more targeted and focused project dedicated to Prescription Addiction Intervention Now, which she founded in 2017 to fight the pharmaceutical companies whose inhumane greed ignited the opioid crisis, the Sacklers particularly.[20] Apart from motivation for recording her friends’ and her life, Goldin has become more conscious about selection of a specifically themed series of photos and making use of the effects and power of artwork in society for a certain group of people against a certain organization, which tells her ability of building sincere interpersonal relationships and understanding weakness people usually hide. The fact that this project is based on Goldin’s own experience of fighting against opioid addiction with self-portraits included makes the work more convincing and powerful.

Figure 3. Taken from https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/.

Maturity of Memory Lost can also be seen from range of subjects and mediums. Goldin has explored further on use of nature and objects to aid emotional expression. Miserable future addicts cannot see clearly and difficulties with interacting with world are suggested by landscapes and skies of low contrast. Power of addiction to make memories disappear is projected onto fire while desire to be free from addiction to maintain or gain belief is expressed by photos of birds, sun and religious icons. Environment where addicts live is revealed by pictures of drugs and interior. Different contrast of images shows addicts’ unstable mood and existence, and the low quality and high noise indicate the distance and age of memories seeming to them. Content of this slideshow is strengthened by combination of still images, short footage, negative music, recordings of phone messages and interviews, absorbing viewers in narratives. Repeated voice of “wake up” has left me an impression with imagination of futility of addicts’ screaming at themselves on mind to wake up. Overall it successfully shows messy, confusing and lost memories due to addiction and conveys addicts’ depressive experiences. However, if paying attention to each single photograph, I doubt meaning of some photos’ existence in the slideshow. For example, it is hard to link photos of some animals on their own to the theme of addiction.

Managing uncontrolled emotions or situations with the work of Nan Goldin has given me more strength to build a stronger existence in the society by knowing my emotional sensitivity and weakness are shared and understood. Goldin’s work explores themes of relationships involving intimacy, loss and drug addiction, unseparated from her personal experiences and growth, which is a key element of the energy in her photos and a reason of the shifting themes from complete difficulties, some ways to solve problems to standing out to fight against problematic powers. Compared to her photography technical skills, I think she is more skilled at connecting with people, seeing and reading their emotions and mood, and becoming invisible with her lens while photographing them, which gives her shots natural and lively expression viewers can feel and associate. The value of issues she addresses and roles she plays in her work is more efficiently presented through collections of photographs via slideshow or photobook rather than single photos, as the arrangement of the sequential presentation creates a stronger narrative with a more logical timeline and more obvious relations or contrasts through different events of the subjects, finding that there are many repetitions of photos in her different pieces of work through her active forty years. Ultimately, Goldin’s success in expressing uncontrollable emotions or situations is significantly contributed by completely involving herself in the work with her impulse to capture content appealing to her.

2200 words without footnotes + Bibliography + captions

Bibliography

Als, Hilton, ‘NAN GOLDIN’S LIFE IN PROGRESS’ (27 June 2016) https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/04/nan-goldins-the-ballad-of-sexual-dependency [Accessed 26 January 2019]

Abrams, Loney, ‘How Nan Goldin’s Snapshots of Sex, Drugs, and Death Refined Photography’ (23 July 2016) https://www.artspace.com/magazine/art_101/close_look/how-nan-goldins-snapshots-of-sex-drugs-and-death-redefined-photography-54026 [Accessed 27 January 2019]

Beyfus, Drusilla, ‘Nan Goldin: unafraid of the dark’ (26 June 2009) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/5648658/Nan-Goldin-unafraid-of-the-dark.html [Accessed 26 January 2019]

Buck, Louisa, ‘Nan Goldin brings her empathy and activism to London’ (21 November 2019) https://www.theartnewspaper.com/blog/nan-goldin-brings-her-empathy-and-activism-to-london [Accessed 23 November 2019]

Busack, Richard von, ‘Cold Dish of Careerism’ (18-24 June 1998)http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/06.18.98/highart-9824.html [Accessed 24 November 2019]

Christov-Bakargiev, Carolyn, ‘Nan Goldin. Devil’s playground’ https://www.castellodirivoli.org/en/mostra/nan-goldin-devils-playground/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Costa, Guido, Nan Goldin (London/NY: Phaidon Press, 2005)

Crump, James, Variety: Photographs by Nan Goldin (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2009)

Darwent, Charles, ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’ (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html [Accessed 27 January 2019]

fotoTAPETA, ‘If I want to take a picture, I take it no matter what’ http://fototapeta.art.pl/2003/ngie.php[Accessed 25 November 2019]

Grow, Krystal, ‘Nan Goldin Illuminates the Short-Lived Magic of Childhood’ (8 April 2014) https://time.com/3808667/nan-goldin-illuminates-the-short-lived-magic-of-childhood/ [Accessed 20 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996)

Goldin, Nan, ‘Nan Goldin Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City 1983’ (1983) https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659 [Accessed 19 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, ‘Simon and Jessica in bed, faces half-lit, Paris’ https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/ [Accessed 21 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (New York: Aperture Foundation, 2012)

Garratt, Sheryl, ‘The dark room’ (6 January 2002) https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2002/jan/06/features.magazine27 [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Harris, Melissa, and Michael Famighetti, Aperture Foundation (eds.), Aperture Conversations: 1985 to the Present (Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA, 2018)

‘Intimacy betrayed: Nan Goldin’s ‘Nan and Brian in Bed’’, < https://andersonangelad.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/intimacy-betrayed-nan-goldins-nan-and-brian-in-bed/> [Accessed 20 December 2019]

Licursi, E. P., ‘RYAN MCGINLEY’S EXUBERANT DOWNTOWN, 1999-2003’ (3 March 2017) https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/ryan-mcginleys-exuberant-downtown-1999-2003 [Accessed 24 November 2019]

McCord, Brooke, ‘Your ultimate guide to Nan Goldin’ (11 January 2017) https://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/34062/1/your-ultimate-guide-to-nan-goldin [Accessed 25 November 2019]

MOCA, Nan Goldin – The Ballad of Sexual Dependency – MOCA U – MOCAtv, online video recording, YouTube, 6 December 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6nMlajUqU [accessed 22 November 2019]

Marian Goodman Gallery, Nan Goldin Sirens, 2019

MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY, ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’ https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]

‘NAN GOLDIN: DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND’, <http://www.stunned.org/goldin.htm&gt; [Accessed 25 November 2019]

O’Hagan, Sean, ‘Interview with Nan Goldin about new book’ (23 March 2014) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/23/nan-goldin-photographer-wanted-get-high-early-age[Accessed 30 January 2019]

O’Hagan, Sean, ‘Nan Goldin: banged up in Reading goal with Oscar Wilde’ (5 September 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/05/nan-goldin-oscar-wilde-inside-exhibition-reading-prison-artangel [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Spindler, Amy M., ‘A Death Tarnishes Fashion’s ‘Heroin Look’’ (20 May 1997) https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/20/style/a-death-tarnishes-fashion-s-heroin-look.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]

Tillman, Lynne, ‘ART; A New Chapter of Nan Goldin’s Diary’ (16 November 2003) https://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/books/art-a-new-chapter-of-nan-goldin-s-diary.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]


[1] Nan Goldin, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (New York: Aperture Foundation, 2012).

[2] James Crump, Variety: Photographs by Nan Goldin (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2009)

[3] ‘Nan Goldin Illuminates the Short-Lived Magic of Childhood’, Krystal Grow (8 April 2014) https://time.com/3808667/nan-goldin-illuminates-the-short-lived-magic-of-childhood/ [Accessed 20 December 2019].

[4] Nan Goldin, I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996).

[5] Melissa Harris, Michael Famighetti, Aperture Foundation (eds.), Aperture Conversations: 1985 to the Present (Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA, 2018).

[6] MOCA, Nan Goldin – The Ballad of Sexual Dependency – MOCA U – MOCAtv, online video recording, YouTube, 6 December 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6nMlajUqU [Accessed 22 November 2019].

[7] Guido Costa, Nan Goldin (London/NY: Phaidon Press, 2005).

[8] ‘A Death Tarnishes Fashion’s ‘Heroin Look’’, Amy M. Spindler (20 May 1997) https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/20/style/a-death-tarnishes-fashion-s-heroin-look.html [Accessed 23 November 2019].

[9] ‘Interview with Nan Goldin about new book’, Sean O’Hagan (23 March 2014) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/23/nan-goldin-photographer-wanted-get-high-early-age [Accessed 30 January 2019].

[10] ‘Cold Dish of Careerism’, Richard von Busack (18-24 June 1998) http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/06.18.98/highart-9824.html [Accessed 24 November 2019].

[11] ‘RYAN MCGINLEY’S EXUBERANT DOWNTOWN, 1999-2003’, E. P. Licursi (3 March 2017) https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/ryan-mcginleys-exuberant-downtown-1999-2003 [Accessed 24 November 2019].

[12] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin: unafraid of the dark’, Drusilla Beyfus (26 June 2009) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/5648658/Nan-Goldin-unafraid-of-the-dark.html [Accessed 26 January 2019]. ‘NAN GOLDIN’S LIFE IN PROGRESS’, Hilton Als (27 June 2016) https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/04/nan-goldins-the-ballad-of-sexual-dependency [Accessed 26 January 2019].

[13] ‘Nan Goldin Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City 1983’, Nan Goldin (1983) https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659[Accessed 19 December 2019].

[14] ‘Intimacy betrayed: Nan Goldin’s ‘Nan and Brian in Bed’’, < https://andersonangelad.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/intimacy-betrayed-nan-goldins-nan-and-brian-in-bed/> [Accessed 20 December 2019].

[15] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘ART; A New Chapter of Nan Goldin’s Diary’, Lynne Tillman (16 November 2003) https://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/books/art-a-new-chapter-of-nan-goldin-s-diary.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]. ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’, Charles Darwent (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘NAN GOLDIN: DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND’, <http://www.stunned.org/goldin.htm&gt; [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘Your ultimate guide to Nan Goldin’, Brooke McCord (11 January 2017) https://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/34062/1/your-ultimate-guide-to-nan-goldin [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[16] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin. Devil’s playground’, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev https://www.castellodirivoli.org/en/mostra/nan-goldin-devils-playground/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘If I want to take a picture, I take it no matter what’, fotoTAPETA http://fototapeta.art.pl/2003/ngie.php [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[17] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘How Nan Goldin’s Snapshots of Sex, Drugs, and Death Refined Photography’, Loney Abrams (23 July 2016) https://www.artspace.com/magazine/art_101/close_look/how-nan-goldins-snapshots-of-sex-drugs-and-death-redefined-photography-54026 [Accessed 27 January 2019]. ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’, Charles Darwent (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html[Accessed 27 January 2019].

[18] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin: banged up in Reading goal with Oscar Wilde’, Sean O’Hagan (5 September 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/05/nan-goldin-oscar-wilde-inside-exhibition-reading-prison-artangel [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘The dark room’, Sheryl Garratt (6 January 2002) https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2002/jan/06/features.magazine27 [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[19] ‘Simon and Jessica in bed, faces half-lit, Paris’, Nan Goldin (2001) https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/ [Accessed 21 December 2019].

[20] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin brings her empathy and activism to London’, Louisa Buck (21 November 2019) https://www.theartnewspaper.com/blog/nan-goldin-brings-her-empathy-and-activism-to-london [Accessed 23 November 2019]. Nan Goldin Sirens, Marian Goodman Gallery, 2019. ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’, MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/ [Accessed 25 November 2019].

Draft 4

As someone who has difficulty connecting with people and the world while desiring emotional connections, I am always attracted to artwork exploring interpersonal relationships and desire. Being a photographer is a way to understand myself and the world better in order to relate to the world. Themes of emotions or situations we cannot fully control mainly inspired by personal experiences run through my own research and photographic practice as well as Nan Goldin’s photography work, which has left an impression on me since the beginning of my practice. Photography is also Goldin’s way to deal with relationships and closely related to her growth. This fits my admiration for the artist exposing herself or her life, as well as her attention to content rather than technical skills involved in the work, and their significance with regard to uncontrollable emotions or situations.

I start the essay with an introduction to Goldin’s key methodology and the sensitive observation shown in her photos. Based on three of Goldin’s works from the past forty years I then analyze Goldin’s practice in relation to photography field and the development of her work in terms of the techniques and the content, as well as the relationship between her photographs and herself. I end the essay with a discussion about the effective skill and medium in her work with some conclusions.

Goldin’s method of taking photographs directly from her daily life of intimate relationships, some of which from youth to death, only with film cameras without digital post editing not only achieves the purpose of a visual diary, but also generates a deeper connection between herself and her work.[1] The raw and unprotected photos distinguish them from staged or carefully calculated scenes, which also established Goldin in the field of photography mainly dominated by males in the late 1970s.[2] Although the content and the style of her practice look like a private documentation, the overlooked details or hidden emotions or psychological states Goldin captures gives her photos powerful sense of art and life. As Krystal Grow describes about her photographs in Eden and After and early practice:

Goldin is seeking out the secrets children seem to hold, and much like she exposed the raw and unnerving inner lives of drag queens and drug addicts, here she hopes to reveal something about children that is both deeply hidden and transparently evident.[3]

Luc Sante also sees Goldin as ‘a portraitist of souls. She looks through the eyes of her subjects, in both directions, and her purview additionally takes in friends, lovers, artifacts, clothing, rooms: the soul’s context.’[4]

The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1986, a slideshow as well as a photobook about her friends, almost all of whom lived with her and a lot of whom died from AIDS, honestly exposes her friends’ and her intimate life to convey the problems in both sexual and emotional relationships between men and women. The origin of this work goes back to Goldin’s childhood when her sister committed suicide as a teenager. Her family was very revisionist, trying to hide the truth from others including Goldin, which is why she thinks revisionism is so dangerous. Therefore, Goldin took the pictures as proof of her life, ‘experiences that no one could revise’ when she was also ‘dealing with the difficulty of coupling’ and ‘maintaining intimacy’. This strengthens the power of the vivid emotions and the undeniable issues many people have faced in relationships, as Goldin and her friends do, about the sexual dependency one gets from another person – someone who doesn’t quite fit – and the difficulty in relating.[5] High saturation and lots of flash used mostly indoors form a higher contrast between the urgency of the problems and the vulnerability of Goldin’s closed small world.

As her defining work, both the techniques and the content of The Ballad have had a significant impact on the photography field. It was a radical photobook besides Larry Clark’s Tulsa, which published photos shot from his own life in the 70s, which had a huge influence on Goldin.[6] It appeared odd on the art scene when photography was still seen as closely related to painting. Its presentation as a slideshow consisting of thousands of slides with a sentimental soundtrack made ‘a revolutionary association’ with ‘the language’ of film. The attention to The Ballad was paid ‘in Europe before’ America, where ‘the postmodern photography of Cindy Sherman and Laurie Simmons’ was prevailing. It has been compared to Diane Arbus’s photographs on a visual aspect. However, their content and purpose are quite dissimilar, because Goldin’s photographs are ‘anti-ideological’.[7] The eloquent images of addicts inspired heroin-chic photos popularized in fashion magazines such as Detour and ‘advertising campaigns like those for Calvin Klein’.[8] However, Goldin hates that kind of glamorization and she never took pictures of people taking drugs to make them look fashionable while it is about honesty and trust.[9] The work is also a model for the pictures by a character in the 1998 film High Art.[10] The photographs of her inner circle of friends in the city influenced the photographer Ryan McGinley.[11]

Despite the success of The Ballad has had over the years, the initial public response did not accept Goldin as ‘a good photographer’ in terms of her lack of technique especially in the mainly male dominated world of photography where technical skills were almost necessary for ‘making art’, which I do not agree with.[12] It is the seemingly casualness of the angle, composition or focus and exposure of Goldin herself in The Ballad, which creates such a straightforward effect by showing daily reality, which I do not think can be produced to the same effect by taking care of various technical aspects at the same time. Taking the cover of the photobook Nan and Brian in bed NYC 1983 (Figure 1) for example, which I particularly like, the subjects are Goldin and her boyfriend.[13] As Angela Anderson highlights, Brian seems ‘unaware and unavailable’ with his face almost unseen while Nan’s gaze shows her dependency on Brian and her sensitive ‘doubt’ about his response.[14] The intimacy of sex in contrast with the separation after sex generates a stronger sense of emptiness and loss. The dim warm light is so soft while the gap between the couple seems solid, tough and almost tactile, indicating the fragility of this relationship. In a degree, to further show the contrast between the awareness of Nan and the unawareness of Brian, Brian may be better positioned in a longer distance to the camera. However, the delicate chemistry of this very moment of the post-sex cigarette conveyed by Goldin’s honesty and bravery would likely be broken, which is the core of its appealing invitation for viewers to relate themselves to the characters in similar situations.

Figure 1. Taken from https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659.

In The Devil’s Playground, 2003, a photobook divided by themes with texts in between to extract the topics it covers, besides again featuring her friends’ relationships, Goldin turns her vision more to the outside world both technically and emotionally. The work extends Goldin’s focus on those usually estranged from society; AIDS patients, heroin addicts including herself, and urban subcultures, as Brooke McCord says, ‘the consequences of their American freedom’.[15] The inclusion of her parents is significant to tell Goldin’s growing openness, based on the history that Goldin ran away from her family at a very young age to build her own extended family with all the characters in The Ballad. Her images have also become more infused with natural light, which is rare in The Ballad, although they are taken no matter what the light is.[16] Goldin’s world is broader and softer, not only constrained in those small and dark rooms at night.

However, due to her controversial subject matter, The Devil’s Playground is criticized vaguely distasteful as a guide to suffering for people who do not suffer, which I have a different opinion about.[17] It does show difficult problems, but also the way people work those problems out, unlike The Ballad where Goldin only puts forward the problems in young relationships without a solution. It was a record of her creating herself through art, which also carries Goldin’s concern about the new generation’s sex safety.[18] After over fifteen years since The Ballad, Goldin herself has become stronger and more critical about her life as well as her work. Taking Simon and Jessica, faces half lit, Paris, 2001 (Figure 2) for instance, which I am particularly drawn to, Simon is Goldin’s nephew, which surprised me again with Goldin’s ability of removing the discomfort of the completely exposed subjects in front of her, even though they are a family belonging to different generations.[19] This is such a heart-warming and intimate capture, full of the sweetness and powerful connection of first love. Only the couple’s faces are lit up in the center, which strengthens the sense of a whole they build together to exist in the world consisting of unexpected encounters they have to deal with. Goldin is not trapped in her own small world anymore while she has started to take responsibility as a family member or a mature friend in others’ world, which activates a louder voice of her photographs to viewers at different ages. Therefore, I argue that it is not a guide to suffering but an exposure of the suffering and struggle people experience and the power and strength they hold or gain to live against the difficulties.

Figure 2. Taken from https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/.

Memory Lost, 2019 (Figure 3), a digital slideshow ‘recounting a life lived through a lens of drug addiction’, represented as part of Goldin’s solo exhibition ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’, Marian Goodman Gallery, is a much more targeted and focused project dedicated to Prescription Addiction Intervention Now she founded in 2017 to fight the pharmaceutical companies whose inhumane greed ignited the opioid crisis, the Sacklers particularly.[20]There is a discussion as to whether dope is worse for the memory than coke, and if booze is worst of all.[21]Apart from the motivation for recording her friends’ and her life, Goldin has become more conscious about the selection of a specifically themed series of photos and making use of the effects and power of artwork in life and society for a certain group of people against a certain organization. The fact that this project is based on Goldin’s own recent experience of fighting against opioid addiction with her self-portraits included makes the work more convincing and powerful.

Figure 3. Taken from https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/.

The maturity of Memory Lost can also be seen from the range of photographed subjects and the mixture of mediums. Goldin has explored further on the use of nature and objects to aid emotional expression. The miserable future the addicts cannot see clearly and their difficulties with interacting with the outside world are suggested by the landscapes and skies of low contrast. The power of addiction to make memories disappear is projected onto fire while the desire to be free from addiction to maintain or gain belief in life is expressed by the photos of birds, sun and religious icons. The environment where the addicts live is revealed by the pictures of drugs and interior. Different contrast of images shows addicts’ unstable mood and existence, and the low quality and high noise indicate the distance and age of memories that seem to them. The content of this slideshow is strengthened by the combination of still images, short footage, negative slow music, recordings of phone messages and interviews, which absorbs viewers in the narratives. The repeated voice of “wake up” has left me a deep impression with imagination of the futility of addicts’ screaming at themselves on their mind to wake up. I think it’s overall successful to show the messy, confusing and lost memories due to the darkness of addiction and convey the addicts’ depressive experiences. However, if paying attention to each single photograph, I doubt the meaning of some photos’ existence in the slideshow.

Managing uncontrolled emotions or situations with the work of Nan Goldin has given me more strength to build a stronger existence in the society by knowing my emotional sensitivity and weakness are shared and understood. Goldin’s work explores themes of relationships involving intimacy, loss and drug addiction, unseparated from her personal experiences and growth, which is a key element of the energy in her photos and a reason of the shifting themes from complete difficulties, some ways to solve problems to standing out to fight against problematic powers. Compared to her photography technical skills, I think she is more skilled at connecting with people, seeing and reading their emotions and mood, and becoming invisible with her lens while photographing them, which gives her shots natural and lively expression viewers can feel and associate. The value of issues she addresses and roles she plays in her work is more efficiently presented through collections of photographs via slideshow or photobook rather than single photos, as the arrangement of the sequential presentation creates a stronger narrative with a more logical timeline and more obvious relations or contrasts through different events of the subjects, finding that there are many repetitions of photos in her different pieces of work through her active forty years. Ultimately, Goldin’s success in expressing uncontrollable emotions or situations is significantly contributed by completely involving herself in the work with her impulse to capture content appealing to her.

2200 words without footnotes + Bibliography + captions

Bibliography

Als, Hilton, ‘NAN GOLDIN’S LIFE IN PROGRESS’ (27 June 2016) https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/04/nan-goldins-the-ballad-of-sexual-dependency [Accessed 26 January 2019]

Abrams, Loney, ‘How Nan Goldin’s Snapshots of Sex, Drugs, and Death Refined Photography’ (23 July 2016) https://www.artspace.com/magazine/art_101/close_look/how-nan-goldins-snapshots-of-sex-drugs-and-death-redefined-photography-54026 [Accessed 27 January 2019]

Beyfus, Drusilla, ‘Nan Goldin: unafraid of the dark’ (26 June 2009) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/5648658/Nan-Goldin-unafraid-of-the-dark.html [Accessed 26 January 2019]

Buck, Louisa, ‘Nan Goldin brings her empathy and activism to London’ (21 November 2019) https://www.theartnewspaper.com/blog/nan-goldin-brings-her-empathy-and-activism-to-london [Accessed 23 November 2019]

Busack, Richard von, ‘Cold Dish of Careerism’ (18-24 June 1998)http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/06.18.98/highart-9824.html [Accessed 24 November 2019]

Christov-Bakargiev, Carolyn, ‘Nan Goldin. Devil’s playground’ https://www.castellodirivoli.org/en/mostra/nan-goldin-devils-playground/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Costa, Guido, Nan Goldin (London/NY: Phaidon Press, 2005)

Crump, James, Variety: Photographs by Nan Goldin (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2009)

Darwent, Charles, ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’ (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html [Accessed 27 January 2019]

fotoTAPETA, ‘If I want to take a picture, I take it no matter what’ http://fototapeta.art.pl/2003/ngie.php[Accessed 25 November 2019]

Grow, Krystal, ‘Nan Goldin Illuminates the Short-Lived Magic of Childhood’ (8 April 2014) https://time.com/3808667/nan-goldin-illuminates-the-short-lived-magic-of-childhood/ [Accessed 20 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996)

Goldin, Nan, ‘Nan Goldin Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City 1983’ (1983) https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659 [Accessed 19 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, ‘Simon and Jessica in bed, faces half-lit, Paris’ https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/ [Accessed 21 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (New York: Aperture Foundation, 2012)

Garratt, Sheryl, ‘The dark room’ (6 January 2002) https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2002/jan/06/features.magazine27 [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Harris, Melissa, and Michael Famighetti, Aperture Foundation (eds.), Aperture Conversations: 1985 to the Present (Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA, 2018)

‘Intimacy betrayed: Nan Goldin’s ‘Nan and Brian in Bed’’, < https://andersonangelad.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/intimacy-betrayed-nan-goldins-nan-and-brian-in-bed/> [Accessed 20 December 2019]

Licursi, E. P., ‘RYAN MCGINLEY’S EXUBERANT DOWNTOWN, 1999-2003’ (3 March 2017) https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/ryan-mcginleys-exuberant-downtown-1999-2003 [Accessed 24 November 2019]

McCord, Brooke, ‘Your ultimate guide to Nan Goldin’ (11 January 2017) https://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/34062/1/your-ultimate-guide-to-nan-goldin [Accessed 25 November 2019]

MOCA, Nan Goldin – The Ballad of Sexual Dependency – MOCA U – MOCAtv, online video recording, YouTube, 6 December 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6nMlajUqU [accessed 22 November 2019]

Marian Goodman Gallery, Nan Goldin Sirens, 2019

MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY, ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’ https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]

‘NAN GOLDIN: DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND’, <http://www.stunned.org/goldin.htm&gt; [Accessed 25 November 2019]

O’Hagan, Sean, ‘Interview with Nan Goldin about new book’ (23 March 2014) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/23/nan-goldin-photographer-wanted-get-high-early-age[Accessed 30 January 2019]

O’Hagan, Sean, ‘Nan Goldin: banged up in Reading goal with Oscar Wilde’ (5 September 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/05/nan-goldin-oscar-wilde-inside-exhibition-reading-prison-artangel [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Spindler, Amy M., ‘A Death Tarnishes Fashion’s ‘Heroin Look’’ (20 May 1997) https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/20/style/a-death-tarnishes-fashion-s-heroin-look.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]

Searle, Adrian, ‘Nan Goldin review – Gut-wrenching, brilliant and beautiful. I cannot turn away’ https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/nov/14/nan-goldin-review-marian-goodman-gallery-london-gut-wrenching-brilliant-beautiiful [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Tillman, Lynne, ‘ART; A New Chapter of Nan Goldin’s Diary’ (16 November 2003) https://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/books/art-a-new-chapter-of-nan-goldin-s-diary.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]


[1] Nan Goldin, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (New York: Aperture Foundation, 2012).

[2] James Crump, Variety: Photographs by Nan Goldin (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2009)

[3] ‘Nan Goldin Illuminates the Short-Lived Magic of Childhood’, Krystal Grow (8 April 2014) https://time.com/3808667/nan-goldin-illuminates-the-short-lived-magic-of-childhood/ [Accessed 20 December 2019].

[4] Nan Goldin, I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996).

[5] Melissa Harris, Michael Famighetti, Aperture Foundation (eds.), Aperture Conversations: 1985 to the Present (Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA, 2018).

[6] MOCA, Nan Goldin – The Ballad of Sexual Dependency – MOCA U – MOCAtv, online video recording, YouTube, 6 December 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6nMlajUqU [Accessed 22 November 2019].

[7] Guido Costa, Nan Goldin (London/NY: Phaidon Press, 2005).

[8] ‘A Death Tarnishes Fashion’s ‘Heroin Look’’, Amy M. Spindler (20 May 1997) https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/20/style/a-death-tarnishes-fashion-s-heroin-look.html [Accessed 23 November 2019].

[9] ‘Interview with Nan Goldin about new book’, Sean O’Hagan (23 March 2014) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/23/nan-goldin-photographer-wanted-get-high-early-age [Accessed 30 January 2019].

[10] ‘Cold Dish of Careerism’, Richard von Busack (18-24 June 1998) http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/06.18.98/highart-9824.html [Accessed 24 November 2019].

[11] ‘RYAN MCGINLEY’S EXUBERANT DOWNTOWN, 1999-2003’, E. P. Licursi (3 March 2017) https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/ryan-mcginleys-exuberant-downtown-1999-2003 [Accessed 24 November 2019].

[12] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin: unafraid of the dark’, Drusilla Beyfus (26 June 2009) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/5648658/Nan-Goldin-unafraid-of-the-dark.html [Accessed 26 January 2019]. ‘NAN GOLDIN’S LIFE IN PROGRESS’, Hilton Als (27 June 2016) https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/04/nan-goldins-the-ballad-of-sexual-dependency [Accessed 26 January 2019].

[13] ‘Nan Goldin Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City 1983’, Nan Goldin (1983) https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659[Accessed 19 December 2019].

[14] ‘Intimacy betrayed: Nan Goldin’s ‘Nan and Brian in Bed’’, < https://andersonangelad.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/intimacy-betrayed-nan-goldins-nan-and-brian-in-bed/> [Accessed 20 December 2019].

[15] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘ART; A New Chapter of Nan Goldin’s Diary’, Lynne Tillman (16 November 2003) https://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/books/art-a-new-chapter-of-nan-goldin-s-diary.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]. ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’, Charles Darwent (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘NAN GOLDIN: DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND’, <http://www.stunned.org/goldin.htm&gt; [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘Your ultimate guide to Nan Goldin’, Brooke McCord (11 January 2017) https://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/34062/1/your-ultimate-guide-to-nan-goldin [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[16] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin. Devil’s playground’, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev https://www.castellodirivoli.org/en/mostra/nan-goldin-devils-playground/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘If I want to take a picture, I take it no matter what’, fotoTAPETA http://fototapeta.art.pl/2003/ngie.php [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[17] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘How Nan Goldin’s Snapshots of Sex, Drugs, and Death Refined Photography’, Loney Abrams (23 July 2016) https://www.artspace.com/magazine/art_101/close_look/how-nan-goldins-snapshots-of-sex-drugs-and-death-redefined-photography-54026 [Accessed 27 January 2019]. ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’, Charles Darwent (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html[Accessed 27 January 2019].

[18] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin: banged up in Reading goal with Oscar Wilde’, Sean O’Hagan (5 September 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/05/nan-goldin-oscar-wilde-inside-exhibition-reading-prison-artangel [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘The dark room’, Sheryl Garratt (6 January 2002) https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2002/jan/06/features.magazine27 [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[19] ‘Simon and Jessica in bed, faces half-lit, Paris’, Nan Goldin (2001) https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/ [Accessed 21 December 2019].

[20] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin brings her empathy and activism to London’, Louisa Buck (21 November 2019) https://www.theartnewspaper.com/blog/nan-goldin-brings-her-empathy-and-activism-to-london [Accessed 23 November 2019]. Nan Goldin Sirens, Marian Goodman Gallery, 2019. ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’, MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/ [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[21] ‘Nan Goldin review – Gut-wrenching, brilliant and beautiful. I cannot turn away’, Adrian Searle https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/nov/14/nan-goldin-review-marian-goodman-gallery-london-gut-wrenching-brilliant-beautiiful [Accessed 25 November 2019].

Draft 3

As someone who has difficulty connecting with people and the world while desiring emotional connections, I am always attracted to artwork exploring interpersonal relationships and desire. Being a photographer is a way to understand myself and the world better in order to relate to the world. Themes of emotions or situations we cannot fully control mainly inspired by personal experiences run through my own research and photographic practice as well as Nan Goldin’s photography work, which has left an impression on me since the beginning of my practice. Photography is also Goldin’s way to deal with relationships and closely related to her growth. This fits my admiration for exposing the artist herself or her life and attention to content rather than technical skills in the work, and their significance with regard to uncontrollable emotions or situations.

I start the essay with an introduction to Goldin’s key methodology and the sensitive observation shown in her photos. Based on three of Goldin’s works from the past forty years I then analyze Goldin’s practice in relation to photography field and the development of her work in terms of the techniques and the content, as well as the relationship between her photographs and herself. I end the essay with a discussion about the effective skill and medium in her work with some conclusions.

Goldin’s method of taking photographs directly from her daily life out of intimate relationships, some of which from youth to death, only with film cameras without digital post editing not only achieves the purpose of a visual diary, but also generates a deeper connection between herself and her work.[1] The raw and unprotected photos distinguish them from staged or carefully calculated scenes, which also established Goldin in the field of photography mainly dominated by males in the late 1970s.[2] Although the content and the style of her practice look like a private documentation, the overlooked details or hidden emotions or psychological states Goldin captures gives her photos powerful sense of art and life. As Krystal Grow describes about her photographs in Eden and After and early practice:

Goldin is seeking out the secrets children seem to hold, and much like she exposed the raw and unnerving inner lives of drag queens and drug addicts, here she hopes to reveal something about children that is both deeply hidden and transparently evident.[3]

Luc Sante also sees Goldin as ‘a portraitist of souls. She looks through the eyes of her subjects, in both directions, and her purview additionally takes in friends, lovers, artifacts, clothing, rooms: the soul’s context.’[4]

The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1986, a slideshow as well as a photobook about her friends, almost all of whom lived with her and a lot of whom died from AIDS, honestly exposes her friends’ and her intimate life to convey the problems in both sexual and emotional relationships between men and women. The origin of this work goes back to Goldin’s childhood when her sister committed suicide as a teenager. Her family was very revisionist trying to hide the truth from others including Goldin while she thought revisionism was so dangerous. Therefore, Goldin took the pictures as ‘proof of her’ life ‘experiences that no one could revise’ when she was also ‘dealing with the difficulty of coupling’ and ‘maintaining intimacy’, which strengthens the power of the vivid emotions and the undeniable issues many people have faced in relationships as Goldin and her friends do, about the sexual dependency one gets from another inappropriate person – someone who doesn’t quite fit – and the difficulty in relating.[5] High saturation and lots of flash used mostly indoors form a higher contrast between the urgency of the problems and the vulnerability of Goldin’s closed small world.

As her defining work, both the techniques and the content of The Ballad have had a significant impact on the photography field. It was a radical photobook besides Larry Clark’s Tulsa, which published photos shot from his own life in the 70s, which had a huge influence on Goldin.[6] It appeared odd on the art scene when photography was still seen as closely related to painting. Its presentation as a slideshow consisting of thousands of slides with a sentimental soundtrack made ‘a revolutionary association’ with ‘the language’ of film. The attention to The Ballad was paid ‘in Europe before’ America, where ‘the postmodern photography of Cindy Sherman and Laurie Simmons’ was prevailing. It has been ‘linked to’ Diane Arbus’s photographs on a visual ‘level’. However, their ‘content’ and ‘mission are very different’ as ‘Goldin’s work’ is ‘anti-ideological’.[7]The eloquent images of addicts inspired heroin-chic photos popular in fashion magazines such as Detour and ‘advertising campaigns like those for Calvin Klein’.[8] The work is also a model for the pictures by a character in the 1998 film High Art.[9] The photographs of her inner circle of friends in the city influenced the photographer Ryan McGinley.[10]

Despite the success of The Ballad has had over the years, the initial public response did not accept Goldin as ‘a good photographer’ in terms of her lack of technique especially in the mainly male world of photography where technical skills were almost necessary for ‘making art’, which I do not agree with.[11] It is the seemingly casualness of the angle, composition or focus and exposure of Goldin herself in The Ballad create such a straightforward effect by showing daily reality, which I do not think can be produced with a same achievement by taking care of various technical aspects at the same time. Taking the cover of the photobook Nan and Brian in bed NYC 1983 (Figure 1) for example, which I particularly like, the subjects are Goldin and her boyfriend.[12] As Angela Anderson highlights, Brian seems ‘unaware and unavailable’ with his face almost unseen while Nan’s gaze shows her dependency on Brian and her sensitive ‘doubt’ about his response.[13] The intimacy of sex in contrast with the separation after sex generates a stronger sense of emptiness and loss. The dim warm light is so soft while the gap between the couple seems solid, tough and almost tactile, indicating the fragility of this relationship. In a degree, to further show the contrast between the awareness of Nan and the unawareness of Brian, Brian may be better positioned in a longer distance to the camera. However, the delicate chemistry of this very moment of post-sex cigarette conveyed by Goldin’s honesty and bravery would likely be broken, which is the core of its appealing invitation for viewers to relate themselves to the characters in similar situations.

Figure 1. Taken from https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659.

In The Devil’s Playground, 2003, a photobook divided by themes with texts in between to extract the topics it covers, besides again featuring her friends’ relationships, Goldin turns her vision more to the outside world both technically and emotionally. The work extends Goldin’s focus on those usually estranged from society; AIDS patients, heroin addicts including herself, and urban subcultures, as Brooke McCord says, ‘the consequences of their American freedom’, photographed out of desire, empathy and love.[14] The inclusion of her parents is significant to tell Goldin’s growing openness, based on the history that Goldin ran away from her family at a very young age to build her own extended family with all the characters in The Ballad. Her images have also become more infused with natural light, which is rare in The Ballad, although they are taken no matter what the light is.[15] Goldin’s world is broader and softer, not only constrained in those small and dark rooms at night.

However, due to her controversial subject matter, The Devil’s Playground is criticized vaguely distasteful as a guide to suffering for people who do not suffer, which I have a different opinion about.[16] It does show difficult problems, but also the way people work those problems out, unlike The Ballad where Goldin only puts forward the problems in young relationships without a solution. It was a record of her creating herself through art, which also carries Goldin’s concern about the new generation’s sex safety.[17] After over fifteen years since The Ballad, Goldin herself has become stronger and more critical about her life as well as her work. Taking Simon and Jessica, faces half lit, Paris, 2001 (Figure 2) under the theme, First Love Simon & Jessica for instance, which I am particularly drawn to, Simon is Goldin’s nephew, which surprised me again with Goldin’s ability of removing the discomfort of the completely exposed subjects in front of her, even though they are a family belonging to different generations.[18] This is such a heart-warming and intimate capture, full of the sweetness and powerful connection of first love. Only the couple’s faces are lit up in the center, which strengthens the sense of a whole they build together to exist in the world consisting of unexpected encounters they have to deal with. Goldin is not trapped in her own small world anymore while she has started to take responsibility as a family member or a mature friend in others’ world, which activates a louder voice of her photographs to viewers at different ages. Therefore, I argue that it is not a guide to suffering but an exposure of the suffering and struggle people experience and the power and strength they hold or gain to live against the difficulties.

Figure 2. Taken from https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/.

Memory Lost, 2019 (Figure 3), a digital slideshow ‘recounting a life lived through a lens of drug addiction’, represented as part of Goldin’s solo exhibition ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’, Marian Goodman Gallery, is a much more targeted and focused project dedicated to Prescription Addiction Intervention Now she founded in 2017 to fight the pharmaceutical companies whose inhumane greed ignited the opioid crisis, the Sacklers particularly.[19]There is a discussion as to whether dope is worse for the memory than coke, and if booze is worst of all.[20]Apart from the motivation for recording her friends’ and her life, Goldin has become more conscious about the selection of a specifically themed series of photos and making use of the effects and power of artwork in life and society for a certain group of people against a certain organization. The fact that this project is based on Goldin’s own recent experience of fighting against opioid addiction with her self-portraits included makes the work more convincing and powerful.

Figure 3. Taken from https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/.

The maturity of Memory Lost can also be seen from the range of photographed subjects and the mixture of mediums. Goldin has explored further on the use of nature and objects to aid emotional expression. The miserable future the addicts cannot see clearly and their difficulties with interacting with the outside world are suggested by the landscapes and skies of low contrast. The power of addiction to make memories disappear is projected onto fire while the desire to be free from addiction to maintain or gain belief in life is expressed by the photos of birds, sun and religious icons. The environment where the addicts live is revealed by the pictures of drugs and interior. Different contrast of images shows addicts’ unstable mood and existence, and the low quality and high noise indicate the distance and age of memories that seem to them. The content of this slideshow is strengthened by the combination of still images, short footage, negative slow music, recordings of phone messages and interviews, which absorbs viewers in the narratives. The repeated voice of “wake up” has left me a deep impression with imagination of the futility of addicts’ screaming at themselves on their mind to wake up. I think it’s overall successful to show the messy, confusing and lost memories due to the darkness of addiction and convey the addicts’ depressive experiences. However, if paying attention to each single photograph, I doubt the meaning of some photos’ existence in the slideshow.

Managing uncontrolled emotions or situations with the work of Nan Goldin has given me more strength to build a stronger existence in the society by knowing my emotional sensitivity and weakness are shared and understood. Goldin’s work explores themes of relationships involving intimacy, loss and drug addiction, unseparated from her personal experiences and growth, which is a key element of the energy in her photos and a reason of the shifting themes from complete difficulties, some ways to solve problems to standing out to fight against problematic powers. Compared to her photography technical skills, I think she is more skilled at connecting with people, seeing and reading their emotions and mood, and becoming invisible with her lens while photographing them, which gives her shots natural and lively expression viewers can feel and associate. The value of issues she addresses and roles she plays in her work is more efficiently presented through collections of photographs via slideshow or photobook rather than single photos, as the arrangement of the sequential presentation creates a stronger narrative with a more logical timeline and more obvious relations or contrasts through different events of the subjects, finding that there are many repetitions of photos in her different pieces of work through her active forty years. Ultimately, Goldin’s success in expressing uncontrollable emotions or situations is significantly contributed by completely involving herself in the work with her impulse to capture content appealing to her.

2186 words without footnotes + Bibliography

Bibliography

Als, Hilton, ‘NAN GOLDIN’S LIFE IN PROGRESS’ (27 June 2016) https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/04/nan-goldins-the-ballad-of-sexual-dependency [Accessed 26 January 2019]

Abrams, Loney, ‘How Nan Goldin’s Snapshots of Sex, Drugs, and Death Refined Photography’ (23 July 2016) https://www.artspace.com/magazine/art_101/close_look/how-nan-goldins-snapshots-of-sex-drugs-and-death-redefined-photography-54026 [Accessed 27 January 2019]

Beyfus, Drusilla, ‘Nan Goldin: unafraid of the dark’ (26 June 2009) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/5648658/Nan-Goldin-unafraid-of-the-dark.html [Accessed 26 January 2019]

Buck, Louisa, ‘Nan Goldin brings her empathy and activism to London’ (21 November 2019) https://www.theartnewspaper.com/blog/nan-goldin-brings-her-empathy-and-activism-to-london [Accessed 23 November 2019]

Busack, Richard von, ‘Cold Dish of Careerism’ (18-24 June 1998)http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/06.18.98/highart-9824.html [Accessed 24 November 2019]

Christov-Bakargiev, Carolyn, ‘Nan Goldin. Devil’s playground’ https://www.castellodirivoli.org/en/mostra/nan-goldin-devils-playground/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Costa, Guido, Nan Goldin (London/NY: Phaidon Press, 2005)

Crump, James, Variety: Photographs by Nan Goldin (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2009)

Darwent, Charles, ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’ (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html [Accessed 27 January 2019]

fotoTAPETA, ‘If I want to take a picture, I take it no matter what’ http://fototapeta.art.pl/2003/ngie.php[Accessed 25 November 2019]

Grow, Krystal, ‘Nan Goldin Illuminates the Short-Lived Magic of Childhood’ (8 April 2014) https://time.com/3808667/nan-goldin-illuminates-the-short-lived-magic-of-childhood/ [Accessed 20 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996)

Goldin, Nan, ‘Nan Goldin Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City 1983’ (1983) https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659 [Accessed 19 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, ‘Simon and Jessica in bed, faces half-lit, Paris’ https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/ [Accessed 21 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (New York: Aperture Foundation, 2012)

Garratt, Sheryl, ‘The dark room’ (6 January 2002) https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2002/jan/06/features.magazine27 [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Harris, Melissa, and Michael Famighetti, Aperture Foundation (eds.), Aperture Conversations: 1985 to the Present (Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA, 2018)

‘Intimacy betrayed: Nan Goldin’s ‘Nan and Brian in Bed’’, < https://andersonangelad.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/intimacy-betrayed-nan-goldins-nan-and-brian-in-bed/> [Accessed 20 December 2019]

Licursi, E. P., ‘RYAN MCGINLEY’S EXUBERANT DOWNTOWN, 1999-2003’ (3 March 2017) https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/ryan-mcginleys-exuberant-downtown-1999-2003 [Accessed 24 November 2019]

McCord, Brooke, ‘Your ultimate guide to Nan Goldin’ (11 January 2017) https://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/34062/1/your-ultimate-guide-to-nan-goldin [Accessed 25 November 2019]

MOCA, Nan Goldin – The Ballad of Sexual Dependency – MOCA U – MOCAtv, online video recording, YouTube, 6 December 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6nMlajUqU [accessed 22 November 2019]

Marian Goodman Gallery, Nan Goldin Sirens, 2019

MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY, ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’ https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]

‘NAN GOLDIN: DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND’, <http://www.stunned.org/goldin.htm&gt; [Accessed 25 November 2019]

O’Hagan, Sean, ‘Nan Goldin: banged up in Reading goal with Oscar Wilde’ (5 September 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/05/nan-goldin-oscar-wilde-inside-exhibition-reading-prison-artangel [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Spindler, Amy M., ‘A Death Tarnishes Fashion’s ‘Heroin Look’’ (20 May 1997) https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/20/style/a-death-tarnishes-fashion-s-heroin-look.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]

Searle, Adrian, ‘Nan Goldin review – Gut-wrenching, brilliant and beautiful. I cannot turn away’ https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/nov/14/nan-goldin-review-marian-goodman-gallery-london-gut-wrenching-brilliant-beautiiful [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Tate, Nan Goldin – ‘My Work Comes from Empathy and Love’ | TateShots, online video recording, YouTube, 1 May 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_rVyt-ojpY [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Tillman, Lynne, ‘ART; A New Chapter of Nan Goldin’s Diary’ (16 November 2003) https://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/books/art-a-new-chapter-of-nan-goldin-s-diary.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]


[1] Nan Goldin, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (New York: Aperture Foundation, 2012).

[2] James Crump, Variety: Photographs by Nan Goldin (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2009)

[3] ‘Nan Goldin Illuminates the Short-Lived Magic of Childhood’, Krystal Grow (8 April 2014) https://time.com/3808667/nan-goldin-illuminates-the-short-lived-magic-of-childhood/ [Accessed 20 December 2019].

[4] Nan Goldin, I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996).

[5] Melissa Harris, Michael Famighetti, Aperture Foundation (eds.), Aperture Conversations: 1985 to the Present (Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA, 2018).

[6] MOCA, Nan Goldin – The Ballad of Sexual Dependency – MOCA U – MOCAtv, online video recording, YouTube, 6 December 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6nMlajUqU [Accessed 22 November 2019].

[7] Guido Costa, Nan Goldin (London/NY: Phaidon Press, 2005).

[8] ‘A Death Tarnishes Fashion’s ‘Heroin Look’’, Amy M. Spindler (20 May 1997) https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/20/style/a-death-tarnishes-fashion-s-heroin-look.html [Accessed 23 November 2019].

[9] ‘Cold Dish of Careerism’, Richard von Busack (18-24 June 1998) http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/06.18.98/highart-9824.html [Accessed 24 November 2019].

[10] ‘RYAN MCGINLEY’S EXUBERANT DOWNTOWN, 1999-2003’, E. P. Licursi (3 March 2017) https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/ryan-mcginleys-exuberant-downtown-1999-2003 [Accessed 24 November 2019].

[11] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin: unafraid of the dark’, Drusilla Beyfus (26 June 2009) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/photography/5648658/Nan-Goldin-unafraid-of-the-dark.html [Accessed 26 January 2019]. ‘NAN GOLDIN’S LIFE IN PROGRESS’, Hilton Als (27 June 2016) https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/04/nan-goldins-the-ballad-of-sexual-dependency [Accessed 26 January 2019].

[12] ‘Nan Goldin Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City 1983’, Nan Goldin (1983) https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659[Accessed 19 December 2019].

[13] ‘Intimacy betrayed: Nan Goldin’s ‘Nan and Brian in Bed’’, < https://andersonangelad.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/intimacy-betrayed-nan-goldins-nan-and-brian-in-bed/> [Accessed 20 December 2019].

[14] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘ART; A New Chapter of Nan Goldin’s Diary’, Lynne Tillman (16 November 2003) https://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/books/art-a-new-chapter-of-nan-goldin-s-diary.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]. ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’, Charles Darwent (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘NAN GOLDIN: DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND’, <http://www.stunned.org/goldin.htm&gt; [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘Your ultimate guide to Nan Goldin’, Brooke McCord (11 January 2017) https://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/34062/1/your-ultimate-guide-to-nan-goldin [Accessed 25 November 2019]. Tate, Nan Goldin – ‘My Work Comes from Empathy and Love’ | TateShots, online video recording, YouTube, 1 May 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_rVyt-ojpY [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[15] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin. Devil’s playground’, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev https://www.castellodirivoli.org/en/mostra/nan-goldin-devils-playground/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘If I want to take a picture, I take it no matter what’, fotoTAPETA http://fototapeta.art.pl/2003/ngie.php [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[16] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘How Nan Goldin’s Snapshots of Sex, Drugs, and Death Refined Photography’, Loney Abrams (23 July 2016) https://www.artspace.com/magazine/art_101/close_look/how-nan-goldins-snapshots-of-sex-drugs-and-death-redefined-photography-54026 [Accessed 27 January 2019]. ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’, Charles Darwent (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html[Accessed 27 January 2019].

[17] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin: banged up in Reading goal with Oscar Wilde’, Sean O’Hagan (5 September 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/05/nan-goldin-oscar-wilde-inside-exhibition-reading-prison-artangel [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘The dark room’, Sheryl Garratt (6 January 2002) https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2002/jan/06/features.magazine27 [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[18] ‘Simon and Jessica in bed, faces half-lit, Paris’, Nan Goldin (2001) https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/ [Accessed 21 December 2019].

[19] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin brings her empathy and activism to London’, Louisa Buck (21 November 2019) https://www.theartnewspaper.com/blog/nan-goldin-brings-her-empathy-and-activism-to-london [Accessed 23 November 2019]. Nan Goldin Sirens, Marian Goodman Gallery, 2019. ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’, MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/ [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[20] ‘Nan Goldin review – Gut-wrenching, brilliant and beautiful. I cannot turn away’, Adrian Searle https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/nov/14/nan-goldin-review-marian-goodman-gallery-london-gut-wrenching-brilliant-beautiiful [Accessed 25 November 2019].

Draft 2

As someone who has difficulty connecting with people and the world while desiring emotional connections, I am always attracted to artwork exploring interpersonal relationships and desire. Being a photographer is a way to understand myself and the world better in order to relate to the world. Themes of emotions or situations we cannot fully control mainly inspired by personal experiences run through my own research and photographic practice as well as Nan Goldin’s photography work, which has left an impression on me since the beginning of my practice. Photography is also Goldin’s way to deal with relationships and closely related to her growth. Therefore, she was an outstanding choice for my essay. This fits my admiration for exposing the artist herself or her life and attention to content rather than technical skills in the work, and their significance with regard to uncontrollable emotions or situations.

I start the essay with an introduction to Goldin’s key methodology and the sensitive observation shown in her photos. Based on three of Goldin’s works from the past forty years I then analyze Goldin’s practice in relation to photography field and the development of her work in terms of the techniques and the content, as well as the relationship between her photographs and herself. I end the essay with a discussion about the effective skill and medium in her work with some conclusions.

Goldin’s method of taking photographs directly from her daily life out of relationships not only achieves the purpose of a visual diary, but also generates a deeper connection between herself and her work.[1] The raw and unprotected photos distinguish them from staged or carefully calculated scenes, which also established Goldin in the field of photography mainly dominated by males in the late 1970s.[2] Although the content and the style of her practice look like a private documentation, the overlooked details or hidden emotions or psychological states Goldin captures gives her photos powerful sense of art and life. As Krystal Grow describes about her photographs in Eden and After and early practice:

Goldin is seeking out the secrets children seem to hold, and much like she exposed the raw and unnerving inner lives of drag queens and drug addicts, here she hopes to reveal something about children that is both deeply hidden and transparently evident.[3]

Luc Sante also sees Goldin as ‘a portraitist of souls. She looks through the eyes of her subjects, in both directions, and her purview additionally takes in friends, lovers, artifacts, clothing, rooms: the soul’s context.’[4]

The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1986, honestly exposes her friends’ and her intimate life to convey the problems in both sexual and emotional relationships between men and women. The pictures were taken as ‘proof of her’ life ‘experiences that no one could revise’ when she was ‘dealing with the difficulty of coupling’ and ‘maintaining intimacy’, which strengthens the power of the vivid emotions and the undeniable issues many people have faced in relationships as Goldin and her friends do, about the sexual dependency one gets from another inappropriate person – someone who doesn’t quite fit.[5] High saturation and lots of flash used mostly indoors form a higher contrast between the urgency of the problems and the vulnerability of Goldin’s closed small world.

Both the techniques and the content of The Ballad have had a significant impact on the photography field. It was a radical photobook besides Larry Clark’s Tulsa, which published photos shot from his own life in the 70s, which had a huge influence on Goldin.[6] It appeared odd on the art scene when photography was still seen as closely related to painting. Its presentation as a slideshow consisting of thousands of slides with a sentimental soundtrack made ‘a revolutionary association’ with ‘the language’ of film. The attention to The Ballad was paid ‘in Europe before’ America, where ‘the postmodern photography of Cindy Sherman and Laurie Simmons’ was prevailing. It has been ‘linked to’ Diane Arbus’s photographs on a visual ‘level’. However, their ‘content’ and ‘mission are very different’ as ‘Goldin’s work’ is ‘anti-ideological’.[7] The eloquent images of addicts inspired heroin-chic photos popular in fashion magazines such as Detour and ‘advertising campaigns like those for Calvin Klein’.[8] The work is also a model for the pictures by a character in the 1998 film High Art.[9] The photographs of her inner circle of friends in the city influenced the photographer Ryan McGinley.[10]

The seemingly casualness and the exposure of Goldin herself in The Ballad create such a straightforward effect by showing daily life reality. Taking Nan and Brian in bed NYC 1983 (Figure 1) for example, the subjects are Goldin and her boyfriend. [11] As Angela Anderson highlights, Brian seems ‘unaware and unavailable’ with his face almost unseen while Nan’s gaze shows her dependency on Brian and her sensitive ‘doubt’ about his response.[12] The intimacy of sex in contrast with the separation after sex generates a stronger sense of emptiness and loss. The dim warm light is so soft while the gap between the couple seems solid, tough and almost tactile, indicating the fragility of this relationship. Goldin’s bravery of showing the conflicts in this moment of the post-sex cigarette brings viewers the courage of relating themselves to similar situations.

Figure 1. Taken from https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659.

In The Devil’s Playground, 2003, Goldin turns her vision more to the outside world both technically and emotionally. The work extends Goldin’s focus on those usually estranged from society; AIDS patients, heroin addicts including herself, and urban subcultures, as Brooke McCord says, ‘the consequences of their American freedom’.[13] Her images have become more infused with natural light, which is rare in The Ballad.[14] Goldin’s world is broader and softer, not only constrained in those small and dark rooms at night. It does show difficult problems, but also the way people work those problems out, and also the difference between a first relationship and a more mature relationship, while in The Ballad, Goldin only puts forward the problems in young relationships without a solution. It was a record of her creating herself through art, which also carries Goldin’s concern about the new generation’s sex safety.[15]

After over 15 years since The Ballad, Goldin herself has become stronger and more critical about her life as well as her work. Taking Simon and Jessica, faces half lit, Paris, 2001 (Figure 2) under the theme, First Love Simon & Jessica for instance, Simon is Goldin’s nephew, which surprised me again with Goldin’s ability of removing the discomfort of the completely exposed subjects in front of her, even though they are a family belonging to different generations.[16] This is such a heart-warming and intimate capture, full of the sweetness and powerful connection of first love. Only the couple’s faces are lit up in the center, which strengthens the sense of a whole they build together to exist in the world consisting of unexpected encounters they have to deal with. Goldin has started to take responsibility as a family member or a mature friend in others’ world, which activates a louder voice of her photographs to viewers at different ages.

Figure 2. Taken from https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/.

Memory Lost, 2019 (Figure 3), a digital slideshow ‘recounting a life lived through a lens of drug addiction’, is a much more targeted and focused project dedicated to Prescription Addiction Intervention Now Goldin founded in 2017 to fight the pharmaceutical companies whose inhumane greed ignited the opioid crisis, the Sacklers particularly.[17] Apart from the motivation for recording her friends’ and her life, Goldin has become more conscious about the selection of a specifically themed series of photos and making use of the effects and power of artwork in life and society for a certain group of people against a certain organization. The fact that this project is based on Goldin’s own recent experience of fighting against opioid addiction makes the work more convincing and powerful.

Figure 3. Taken from https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/.

The maturity of this slideshow can also be seen from the range of photographed subjects and the mixture of mediums. The difficulties, the desire and the environment addicts deal with are revealed through the capture of nature, interior, drugs and addicts. The different contrast in images suggests the unstable mood in different moments and the low quality and high noise indicate the distance and age of memories seem to addicts. The content of the work is strengthened by the combination of still images, short footage, negative slow music, recordings of phone messages and interviews, which absorbs viewers in the narratives. I think it’s overall successful to show the messy, confusing and lost memories due to the darkness of addiction and convey the addicts’ depressive experiences. However, if paying attention to each single photograph, I doubt the meaning of some photos’ existence in the slideshow.

Managing uncontrolled emotions or situations with the work of Nan Goldin has given me more strength to build a stronger existence in the society by knowing my emotional sensitivity and weakness are shared and understood. Goldin’s work explores themes of relationships involving intimacy, loss and drug addiction, unseparated from her personal experiences and growth, which is a key element of the energy in her photos and a reason of the shifting themes from complete difficulties, some ways to solve problems to standing out to fight against problematic powers. Compared to her photography technical skills, I think she is more skilled at connecting with people, seeing and reading their emotions and mood, and becoming invisible with her lens while photographing them, which gives her shots natural and lively expression viewers can feel and associate. The value of issues she addresses and roles she plays in her work is more efficiently presented through collections of photographs via slideshow or photobook rather than single photos, finding that there are many repetitions of photos in her different pieces of work through her active forty years. Ultimately, Goldin’s success in expressing uncontrollable emotions or situations is significantly contributed by completely involving herself in the work with her impulse to capture content appealing to her.

Bibliography

Buck, Louisa, ‘Nan Goldin brings her empathy and activism to London’ (21 November 2019) https://www.theartnewspaper.com/blog/nan-goldin-brings-her-empathy-and-activism-to-london [Accessed 23 November 2019]

Busack, Richard von, ‘Cold Dish of Careerism’ (18-24 June 1998) http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/06.18.98/highart-9824.html [Accessed 24 November 2019]

Christov-Bakargiev, Carolyn, ‘Nan Goldin. Devil’s playground’ https://www.castellodirivoli.org/en/mostra/nan-goldin-devils-playground/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Costa, Guido, Nan Goldin (London/NY: Phaidon Press, 2005)

Crump, James, Variety: Photographs by Nan Goldin (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2009)

Grow, Krystal, ‘Nan Goldin Illuminates the Short-Lived Magic of Childhood’ (8 April 2014) https://time.com/3808667/nan-goldin-illuminates-the-short-lived-magic-of-childhood/ [Accessed 20 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996)

Goldin, Nan, ‘Nan Goldin Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City 1983’ (1983) https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659 [Accessed 19 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, ‘Simon and Jessica in bed, faces half-lit, Paris’ https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/ [Accessed 21 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (New York: Aperture Foundation, 2012)

Garratt, Sheryl, ‘The dark room’ (6 January 2002) https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2002/jan/06/features.magazine27 [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Harris, Melissa, and Michael Famighetti, Aperture Foundation (eds.), Aperture Conversations: 1985 to the Present (Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA, 2018)

INDEPENDENT, ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’ (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html [Accessed 25 November 2019]

‘Intimacy betrayed: Nan Goldin’s ‘Nan and Brian in Bed’’, < https://andersonangelad.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/intimacy-betrayed-nan-goldins-nan-and-brian-in-bed/> [Accessed 20 December 2019]

Licursi, E. P., ‘RYAN MCGINLEY’S EXUBERANT DOWNTOWN, 1999-2003’ (3 March 2017) https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/ryan-mcginleys-exuberant-downtown-1999-2003 [Accessed 24 November 2019]

McCord, Brooke, ‘Your ultimate guide to Nan Goldin’ (11 January 2017) https://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/34062/1/your-ultimate-guide-to-nan-goldin [Accessed 25 November 2019]

MOCA, Nan Goldin – The Ballad of Sexual Dependency – MOCA U – MOCAtv, online video recording, YouTube, 6 December 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6nMlajUqU [accessed 22 November 2019]

Marian Goodman Gallery, Nan Goldin Sirens, 2019

MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY, ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’ https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]

‘NAN GOLDIN: DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND’, <http://www.stunned.org/goldin.htm&gt; [Accessed 25 November 2019]

O’Hagan, Sean, ‘Nan Goldin: banged up in Reading goal with Oscar Wilde’ (5 September 2016)https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/05/nan-goldin-oscar-wilde-inside-exhibition-reading-prison-artangel [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Spindler, Amy M., ‘A Death Tarnishes Fashion’s ‘Heroin Look’’ (20 May 1997) https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/20/style/a-death-tarnishes-fashion-s-heroin-look.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]

Tillman, Lynne, ‘ART; A New Chapter of Nan Goldin’s Diary’ (16 November 2003) https://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/books/art-a-new-chapter-of-nan-goldin-s-diary.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]


[1] Nan Goldin, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (New York: Aperture Foundation, 2012).

[2] James Crump, Variety: Photographs by Nan Goldin (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2009)

[3] ‘Nan Goldin Illuminates the Short-Lived Magic of Childhood’, Krystal Grow (8 April 2014) https://time.com/3808667/nan-goldin-illuminates-the-short-lived-magic-of-childhood/ [Accessed 20 December 2019].

[4] Nan Goldin, I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996).

[5] Melissa Harris, Michael Famighetti, Aperture Foundation (eds.), Aperture Conversations: 1985 to the Present (Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA, 2018).

[6] MOCA, Nan Goldin – The Ballad of Sexual Dependency – MOCA U – MOCAtv, online video recording, YouTube, 6 December 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6nMlajUqU [Accessed 22 November 2019].

[7] Guido Costa, Nan Goldin (London/NY: Phaidon Press, 2005).

[8] ‘A Death Tarnishes Fashion’s ‘Heroin Look’’, Amy M. Spindler (20 May 1997) https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/20/style/a-death-tarnishes-fashion-s-heroin-look.html [Accessed 23 November 2019].

[9] ‘Cold Dish of Careerism’, Richard von Busack (18-24 June 1998) http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/06.18.98/highart-9824.html [Accessed 24 November 2019].

[10] ‘RYAN MCGINLEY’S EXUBERANT DOWNTOWN, 1999-2003’, E. P. Licursi (3 March 2017) https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/ryan-mcginleys-exuberant-downtown-1999-2003 [Accessed 24 November 2019].

[11] ‘Nan Goldin Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City 1983’, Nan Goldin (1983) https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659[Accessed 19 December 2019].

[12] ‘Intimacy betrayed: Nan Goldin’s ‘Nan and Brian in Bed’’, < https://andersonangelad.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/intimacy-betrayed-nan-goldins-nan-and-brian-in-bed/> [Accessed 20 December 2019].

[13] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘ART; A New Chapter of Nan Goldin’s Diary’, Lynne Tillman (16 November 2003) https://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/books/art-a-new-chapter-of-nan-goldin-s-diary.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]. ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’, INDEPENDENT (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘NAN GOLDIN: DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND’, <http://www.stunned.org/goldin.htm&gt; [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘Your ultimate guide to Nan Goldin’, Brooke McCord (11 January 2017) https://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/34062/1/your-ultimate-guide-to-nan-goldin [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[14] ‘Nan Goldin. Devil’s playground’, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev https://www.castellodirivoli.org/en/mostra/nan-goldin-devils-playground/ [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[15] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin: banged up in Reading goal with Oscar Wilde’, Sean O’Hagan (5 September 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/05/nan-goldin-oscar-wilde-inside-exhibition-reading-prison-artangel [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘The dark room’, Sheryl Garratt (6 January 2002) https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2002/jan/06/features.magazine27 [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[16] ‘Simon and Jessica in bed, faces half-lit, Paris’, Nan Goldin (2001) https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/ [Accessed 21 December 2019].

[17] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin brings her empathy and activism to London’, Louisa Buck (21 November 2019) https://www.theartnewspaper.com/blog/nan-goldin-brings-her-empathy-and-activism-to-london [Accessed 23 November 2019]. Nan Goldin Sirens, Marian Goodman Gallery, 2019. ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’, MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/ [Accessed 25 November 2019].

Draft 1

Nan Goldin is an American photographer exploring themes of relationships involving intimacy, sexuality, love, loss, obsession and dependency, as well as drug addiction and gender through photography. Her Common ideas are emotions or situations people cannot fully control. Her subjects are mostly her close friends who she regards as her extended family, sometimes herself, and especially in her later work, nature and objects. Goldin photographs people as they are, some of whom from youth to death due to drugs or AIDS, without projecting her opinions or preferences.

To Goldin, photography is a visual diary. Photographs are taken directly from her daily life out of relationships for her to remember.[1] The raw and unprotected photos distinguish them from staged or carefully calculated scenes, which also established Goldin in the field of photography mainly dominated by males in the late 1970s.[2] She only uses film cameras and does not do digital post editing. She also produces short videos, especially more recently. Slideshow with music is a characteristic among the means of presentation of her work.

She also present prints in galleries and museums, and publishes photobooks. The arrangement of the sequential presentation of her photographs creates a stronger narrative, because it gives the photos a more logical timeline, more obvious relations or contrasts through the different events of the subjects.

Looking through her photographs is almost like a deep conversation with Goldin about her intimate life moments as they are completely based on her own experiences and absolutely personal, which attracts me because my motivation or practice is expressing my own state. The seemingly casualness of the exposure, angle, composition or focus of her photos generates a deeper connection between herself and her work. Goldin seems like an unseparated part of her photography with her gaze, breath and emotion all over. Although the content and the style of her practice look like a private documentation, the overlooked details or hidden emotions or psychological states Goldin captures gives her photos powerful sense of art and life. As Krystal Grow describes about her photographs in Eden and After and early practice:

Goldin is seeking out the secrets children seem to hold, and much like she exposed the raw and unnerving inner lives of drag queens and drug addicts, here she hopes to reveal something about children that is both deeply hidden and transparently evident.[3]

Luc Sante also sees Goldin as ‘a portraitist of souls. She looks through the eyes of her subjects, in both directions, and her purview additionally takes in friends, lovers, artifacts, clothing, rooms: the soul’s context.’[4]

The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1986, is a slideshow as well as a photobook about her friends, almost all of whom lived with her and a lot of whom died from AIDS. The origin of this work goes back to Goldin’s childhood. Goldin’s sister committed suicide when they were both teenagers. Her family was very revisionist trying to hide the truth from others including Goldin while she thought revisionism was so dangerous. Therefore, Goldin took the pictures as ‘proof of her’ life ‘experiences that no one could revise’ when she was also ‘dealing with the difficulty of coupling’ and ‘maintaining intimacy’.[5] ‘The slideshow is about forty-eight minutes’ long ‘with’ thirty ‘songs, the texts of’ which ‘act as the narrative’. High saturation and a lot of flash are used mostly indoors. It is about the sexual dependency one gets from another inappropriate person – someone who doesn’t quite fit – and the difficulty in relating.

The Ballad is her defining work. It was a radical photobook besides Larry Clark’s Tulsa, which published photos shot from his own life in the 70s, which had a huge influence on Goldin.[6] It appeared odd on the art scene when photography was still seen as closely related to painting. Its presentation as a slideshow consisting of thousands of slides with a sentimental soundtrack made ‘a revolutionary association’ with ‘the language’ of film. The attention to The Ballad was paid ‘in Europe before’ America, where ‘the postmodern photography of Cindy Sherman and Laurie Simmons’ was prevailing. It has been ‘linked to’ Diane Arbus’s photographs on a visual ‘level’. However, their ‘content’ and ‘mission are very different’ as ‘Goldin’s work’ is ‘anti-ideological’.[7] The eloquent images of addicts inspired heroin-chic photos popular in fashion magazines such as Detour and ‘advertising campaigns like those for Calvin Klein’.[8] The work is also a model for the pictures by a character in the 1998 film High Art.[9] The photographs of her inner circle of friends in the city influenced the photographer Ryan McGinley.[10]

The Ballad attracted me as I was doing a project trying to express how I was dependent on sex to get a temporary fix. I particularly like Nan and Brian in bed NYC 1983 (Figure 1), which is also the cover of the photobook.[11] The woman in bed is Goldin herself. I can find a strong relation with Goldin in similar situations. There are several contrasts in this moment of the post-sex cigarette. As Angela Anderson highlights, Brian seems ‘unaware and unavailable’ with his face almost unseen while Nan’s gaze shows her dependency on Brian and her sensitive ‘doubt’ about his response.[12] The intimacy of sex in contrast with the separation after sex generates a stronger sense of emptiness and loss. The dim warm light is so soft while the gap between the couple seems solid, tough and almost tactile, indicating the fragility of this relationship. Goldin uses a most direct and honest way to achieve her purpose of the diary, which is really brave. It is also the casual nature of her work that creates such a straightforward effect, which exposes reality from daily life moments. Therefore, viewers can get linked and absorbed into her photographs immediately and sometimes even see themselves as the characters.

Figure 1. Taken from https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659.

In The Devil’s Playground, 2003, besides again featuring her friends’ relationships, the work extends Goldin’s focus on those usually estranged from society; AIDS patients, heroin addicts including herself, and urban subcultures, as Brooke McCord says, ‘the consequences of their American freedom’. There is a general connection between nakedness and frailty: people kissing, having sex, asleep; bruised, hospitalized, dead.[13] As usual, the camera is an extension of Goldin. Everyone she photographs comes out of desire, empathy and love.[14]

Compared to The BalladThe Devil’s Playground also includes portraits of children and parents besides Goldin’s friends and herself, divided into several themes with articles or poems in between to extract the topics it covers. I was especially surprised to see Goldin’s parents in the book, knowing that Goldin ran away from her family at a very young age to build her own extended family with all the characters in The Ballad. As I went through the book further, I started to understand the shifts in Goldin’s lens better. Obviously, Goldin turns her vision more to the outside world, including religion and landscape, and her images have become more infused with natural light, which is rare in The Ballad, although they are taken no matter what the light is.[15] Goldin’s world is broader and softer, not only constrained in those small and dark rooms at night. It does show difficult problems, but also the way people work those problems out, and also the difference between a first relationship and a more mature relationship, while in The Ballad, Goldin only puts forward the problems in young relationships without a solution. It was a record of her creating herself through art, which also carries Goldin’s concern about the new generation’s sex safety.[16] After over 15 years since The Ballad, Goldin herself has become stronger and more critical about her life as well as her work.

I am particularly drawn to Simon and Jessica, faces half lit, Paris, 2001 (Figure 2) under the theme, First Love Simon & Jessica.[17] Simon is Goldin’s nephew, which surprised me again with Goldin’s ability of removing the discomfort of the completely exposed subjects in front of her, even though they are a family belonging to different generations. This is such a heart-warming and intimate capture, full of the sweetness and powerful connection of first love. Only the couple’s faces are lit up in the center, which strengthens the sense of a whole they build together to exist in the world consisting of unexpected encounters they have to deal with. Goldin is not trapped in her own small world anymore. She starts to take responsibility as a family member or a mature friend in others’ world, which activates a louder voice of her photographs to viewers at different ages.

Figure 2. Taken from https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/.

Memory Lost, 2019 (Figure 3), represented as part of Goldin’s solo exhibition ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’, Marian Goodman Gallery, is a digital slideshow ‘recounting a life lived through a lens of drug addiction’ dedicated to Prescription Addiction Intervention Now she founded in 2017 to fight the pharmaceutical companies whose inhumane greed ignited the opioid crisis, the Sacklers particularly.[18] There is a discussion as to whether dope is worse for the memory than coke, and if booze is worst of all.[19]

Figure 3. Taken from https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/.

In Memory Lost, most images are of high contrast and saturation, very colorful, showing the significance and strong mood of those moments. The low quality and high noise of the images show the distance and age of memories. There are many photos of nature and people’s relationship with it. Landscapes and skies of low contrast suggest the miserable future the addicts cannot see clearly and their difficulties to interact with the outside world. Photos of birds and sun indicate their hope to be free from addiction. Portraits of people in nature almost fading away show the weak existence, the detachment and helplessness of addicts. The environment the addicts live with most of the time is revealed through the pictures of drugs and interior. The power of addiction to make memories disappear can be seen through the appearance of fire while the desire to maintain or gain belief in life is expressed through the religious icons.

I think the medium of Memory Lost is more slideshow instead of photography. The mix of still images and short footage, the negative slow music and recordings of phone messages and interviews give the photographs much more power to make viewers absorbed in the narratives. I can especially remember the repeated “wake up”, imaging how many times the addicts scream at themselves inside to wake up and how it is useless. Goldin’s self-portraits also make the work more convincing as it is based on her own addiction experience. I think it’s overall successful to show the messy, confusing and lost memories due to the darkness of addiction and convey the addicts’ depressive experiences. However, if paying attention to each photograph, I doubt the meaning of some single photos’ existence in the slideshow.

Taken collectively, I feel the value of Goldin’s work is based on collections of photographs through the medium of slideshow or photobook rather than single photos, finding that there are many repetitions of same photos in her different pieces of work through her active forty years. I like her work mainly due to its themes about love, sexuality, intimacy and loss conveyed through reality she insists on, which I often have difficulty dealing with and also have interest in working with. Sometimes her photography is a mirror that reflects the trace of my experiences. Compared to her photography technical skills, I think she is more skilled at connecting with people, seeing and reading their emotions and mood, and becoming invisible with her lens while photographing them, which gives her photos powerful and natural expression that others can feel. The themes of her work shift as she gets different life experiences, from complete difficulties, some ways to solve problems to standing out to fight against problematic powers. Ultimately, Goldin’s practice is getting more positive power and impact.

1961 words without footnotes + Bibliography

Bibliography

Buck, Louisa, ‘Nan Goldin brings her empathy and activism to London’ (21 November 2019) https://www.theartnewspaper.com/blog/nan-goldin-brings-her-empathy-and-activism-to-london [Accessed 23 November 2019]

Busack, Richard von, ‘Cold Dish of Careerism’ (18-24 June 1998) http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/06.18.98/highart-9824.html [Accessed 24 November 2019]

Chrisafis, Angelique, ‘My camera has saved my life’ (22 May 2008) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2008/may/22/photography.art [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Christov-Bakargiev, Carolyn, ‘Nan Goldin. Devil’s playground’ https://www.castellodirivoli.org/en/mostra/nan-goldin-devils-playground/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Costa, Guido, Nan Goldin (London/NY: Phaidon Press, 2005)

Crump, James, Variety: Photographs by Nan Goldin (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2009)

fotoTAPETA, ‘If I want to take a picture, I take it no matter what’ http://fototapeta.art.pl/2003/ngie.php[Accessed 25 November 2019]

Grow, Krystal, ‘Nan Goldin Illuminates the Short-Lived Magic of Childhood’ (8 April 2014) https://time.com/3808667/nan-goldin-illuminates-the-short-lived-magic-of-childhood/ [Accessed 20 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996)

Goldin, Nan, ‘Nan Goldin Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City 1983’ (1983) https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659 [Accessed 19 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, ‘Simon and Jessica in bed, faces half-lit, Paris’ https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/ [Accessed 21 December 2019]

Goldin, Nan, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (New York: Aperture Foundation, 2012)

Garratt, Sheryl, ‘The dark room’ (6 January 2002) https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2002/jan/06/features.magazine27 [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Harris, Melissa, and Michael Famighetti, Aperture Foundation (eds.), Aperture Conversations: 1985 to the Present (Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA, 2018)

INDEPENDENT, ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’ (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html [Accessed 25 November 2019]

‘Intimacy betrayed: Nan Goldin’s ‘Nan and Brian in Bed’’, < https://andersonangelad.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/intimacy-betrayed-nan-goldins-nan-and-brian-in-bed/> [Accessed 20 December 2019]

Licursi, E. P., ‘RYAN MCGINLEY’S EXUBERANT DOWNTOWN, 1999-2003’ (3 March 2017) https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/ryan-mcginleys-exuberant-downtown-1999-2003 [Accessed 24 November 2019]

McCord, Brooke, ‘Your ultimate guide to Nan Goldin’ (11 January 2017) https://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/34062/1/your-ultimate-guide-to-nan-goldin [Accessed 25 November 2019]

MOCA, Nan Goldin – The Ballad of Sexual Dependency – MOCA U – MOCAtv, online video recording, YouTube, 6 December 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6nMlajUqU [accessed 22 November 2019]

Marian Goodman Gallery, Nan Goldin Sirens, 2019

MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY, ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’ https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]

‘NAN GOLDIN: DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND’, <http://www.stunned.org/goldin.htm&gt; [Accessed 25 November 2019]

O’Hagan, Sean, ‘Nan Goldin: banged up in Reading goal with Oscar Wilde’ (5 September 2016)https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/05/nan-goldin-oscar-wilde-inside-exhibition-reading-prison-artangel [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Spindler, Amy M., ‘A Death Tarnishes Fashion’s ‘Heroin Look’’ (20 May 1997) https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/20/style/a-death-tarnishes-fashion-s-heroin-look.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]

Searle, Adrian, ‘Nan Goldin review – Gut-wrenching, brilliant and beautiful. I cannot turn away’ https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/nov/14/nan-goldin-review-marian-goodman-gallery-london-gut-wrenching-brilliant-beautiiful [Accessed 25 November 2019]

Tate, Nan Goldin – ‘My Work Comes from Empathy and Love’ | TateShots, online video recording, YouTube, 1 May 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_rVyt-ojpY [Accessed 25 November 2019]Tillman, Lynne, ‘ART; A New Chapter of Nan Goldin’s Diary’ (16 November 2003) https://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/books/art-a-new-chapter-of-nan-goldin-s-diary.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]


[1] Nan Goldin, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (New York: Aperture Foundation, 2012).

[2] James Crump, Variety: Photographs by Nan Goldin (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2009)

[3] ‘Nan Goldin Illuminates the Short-Lived Magic of Childhood’, Krystal Grow (8 April 2014) https://time.com/3808667/nan-goldin-illuminates-the-short-lived-magic-of-childhood/ [Accessed 20 December 2019].

[4] Nan Goldin, I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996).

[5] Melissa Harris, Michael Famighetti, Aperture Foundation (eds.), Aperture Conversations: 1985 to the Present (Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA, 2018).

[6] MOCA, Nan Goldin – The Ballad of Sexual Dependency – MOCA U – MOCAtv, online video recording, YouTube, 6 December 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B6nMlajUqU [Accessed 22 November 2019].

[7] Guido Costa, Nan Goldin (London/NY: Phaidon Press, 2005).

[8] ‘A Death Tarnishes Fashion’s ‘Heroin Look’’, Amy M. Spindler (20 May 1997) https://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/20/style/a-death-tarnishes-fashion-s-heroin-look.html [Accessed 23 November 2019].

[9] ‘Cold Dish of Careerism’, Richard von Busack (18-24 June 1998) http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/06.18.98/highart-9824.html [Accessed 24 November 2019].

[10] ‘RYAN MCGINLEY’S EXUBERANT DOWNTOWN, 1999-2003’, E. P. Licursi (3 March 2017)https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/ryan-mcginleys-exuberant-downtown-1999-2003 [Accessed 24 November 2019].

[11] ‘Nan Goldin Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City 1983’, Nan Goldin (1983) https://www.moma.org/collection/works/101659[Accessed 19 December 2019].

[12] ‘Intimacy betrayed: Nan Goldin’s ‘Nan and Brian in Bed’’, < https://andersonangelad.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/intimacy-betrayed-nan-goldins-nan-and-brian-in-bed/> [Accessed 20 December 2019].

[13] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘ART; A New Chapter of Nan Goldin’s Diary’, Lynne Tillman (16 November 2003) https://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/16/books/art-a-new-chapter-of-nan-goldin-s-diary.html [Accessed 23 November 2019]. ‘The Devil’s Playground by Nan Goldin’, INDEPENDENT (11 January 2004) https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-devils-playground-by-nan-goldin-73230.html [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘NAN GOLDIN: DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND’, <http://www.stunned.org/goldin.htm&gt; [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘Your ultimate guide to Nan Goldin’, Brooke McCord (11 January 2017) https://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/34062/1/your-ultimate-guide-to-nan-goldin [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[14] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘My camera has saved my life’, Angelique Chrisafis (22 May 2008) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2008/may/22/photography.art [Accessed 25 November 2019]. Tate, Nan Goldin – ‘My Work Comes from Empathy and Love’ | TateShots, online video recording, YouTube, 1 May 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_rVyt-ojpY [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[15] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin. Devil’s playground’, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev https://www.castellodirivoli.org/en/mostra/nan-goldin-devils-playground/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘If I want to take a picture, I take it no matter what’, fotoTAPETA http://fototapeta.art.pl/2003/ngie.php [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[16] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin: banged up in Reading goal with Oscar Wilde’, Sean O’Hagan (5 September 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/05/nan-goldin-oscar-wilde-inside-exhibition-reading-prison-artangel [Accessed 25 November 2019]. ‘The dark room’, Sheryl Garratt (6 January 2002)https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2002/jan/06/features.magazine27 [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[17] ‘Simon and Jessica in bed, faces half-lit, Paris’, Nan Goldin (2001) https://www.matthewmarks.com/new-york/exhibitions/2003-03-01_nan-goldin/works-in-exhibition/#/images/3/ [Accessed 21 December 2019].

[18] My view on this has been inspired by my reading of ‘Nan Goldin brings her empathy and activism to London’, Louisa Buck (21 November 2019) https://www.theartnewspaper.com/blog/nan-goldin-brings-her-empathy-and-activism-to-london [Accessed 23 November 2019]. Nan Goldin Sirens, Marian Goodman Gallery, 2019. ‘Nan Goldin Sirens’, MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY https://www.mariangoodman.com/exhibitions/351-nan-goldin-sirens/ [Accessed 25 November 2019].

[19] ‘Nan Goldin review – Gut-wrenching, brilliant and beautiful. I cannot turn away’, Adrian Searle https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/nov/14/nan-goldin-review-marian-goodman-gallery-london-gut-wrenching-brilliant-beautiiful [Accessed 25 November 2019].