Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency

21.06.2016 | Art | BY:

Nan Goldin’s ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’ will show at MoMA until the 12th February 2017, giving you ample time to bask in her deeply personal, evocative collection of photographs.

Drawing on her own experiences in Boston, New York and Berlin – mostly during the late 1970s and 1980s – Goldin describes her body of work as ‘The diary I let people read.’ ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’ is comprised of almost 700 photographs and is set against a powerful musical soundtrack, capturing her subjects in raw moments of love and loss, and documenting both herself and her friends as they suffer from drug use, domestic violence and the effects of AIDS.

The collection is aptly named after a song in Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s ‘The Threepenny Opera’ and features music from many of Goldin’s friends, including Maria Callas and members of The Velvet Underground. The photographs are presented in their original 35mm format, as they were when they were first shown in the bars and clubs of New York City in the 1980s. Since then, Goldin has continued her narrative and added photographs to the collection, but they are still produced as slides, as they were when Goldin had no access to a dark room and was unable to afford to have her photographs made into prints.

‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’ is also available in the form of a book, which was reissued in 2012, recognising the persistent relevance of Goldin’s subject matter. The book can be bought online, or is available at MoMA.

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Pure Gold

20.06.2011 | Art , Blog | BY:

Photographer Nan Goldin’s work is inextricably bound up in her own life. Her most famous book The Ballad of Sexual Dependancy documented her surrogate family of misfits and the Manhattan scene they belonged to, before the immolation of the Eighties. Over the years she has remained faithful to her idea of taking photographs in order, “to retain memory and make a record against revisionism”, by using natural light to capture an image that, if not quite figurative, is pure in the essence of the moment.

The newly opened Sprovieri Gallery are kicking off with Goldin’s seventh slide-show exhibition. Fire Leap features images of her friends and family’s children from 1972 to present, as well as a series of landscape photographs taken during her travels since the late Seventies. While the former feeds from Goldin’s fascination with childish innocence and freedom, the latter are more than simply expansive visions of beauty. They are a meditation on her own emotional experience.

As Goldin says, the images: “have been my secret metaphors for loneliness… I was trying to break the glass between the outside world and me. I had lived in a dark space for 15 years so the landscape was unfamiliar to me, a fascination with an unknown world outside.”

While dancing children and moonlit trees might seem a world away from the gay bars and whorehouses with which Goldin made her name, they are, with their raw intimacy and muted entropy, unmistakably her visions.

Nan Goldin, Fire Leap, 24 June – 8 August at the Sprovieri Gallery, W1B 4BQ.

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Body of evidence

18.11.2010 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

Francesca Woodman took her first photograph aged 13. The self-portrait reveals a young woman bathed in light, with her face averted from the cameras’ gaze (below, top left). Despite her years, the image set the tone for the remainder of a brief, but brilliant photographic career.

Woodman studied at the Rhode Island School of Design from 1975 – 1979, producing a prolific body of work. A solitary figure in life and art, she was the frequent, lone subject of her images. Before her untimely death, when she jumped from a Manhattan high rise at the age of 22, Woodman generated an archive of 800 images. This week a number of them go on show at the Victoria Miro gallery in London, including rarely seen colour works. The exhibition is a taster of a major retrospective at San Francisco’s MoMA, which ultimately lands at the New York Guggenheim in 2012. Such mainstream recognition has taken time, though Woodman’s contemporary influence spans from Cindy Sherman to Nan Goldin. This is a show that doesn’t need to shout, it very quietly commands the attention.

Francesca Woodman is at the Victoria Miro until 22nd January 2011
Victoria Miro

All images: The Estate of Francesca Woodman, Courtesy George and Betty Woodman and Victoria Miro Gallery.

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