Nan Goldin’s pictures chronicle her life, evolving from relationships rather than from observations. The artist has said “I sometimes don’t know how I feel about someone until I take his or her picture.” Her photographs are not one-shot narrative but rather are structured for the densest interaction of characters and themes. In this way Goldin preserves the sense of peoples’ lives, endowing them with strength and beauty without glamorization or glorification. Goldin demands that the viewer go beyond the surface, regardless of how luxurious her light and color, or how provocative her mise-en-scène.
Underscoring all of Goldin’s work is a fundamental respect for her subjects, people who recreate themselves according to their fantasies. Hers is a gender-free society in which her subjects exemplify Oscar Wilde’s dictum, “You are who you pretend to be.” The current exhibition will include work from her early (and ongoing) series The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, The Other Side, (photographs made around Boston’s notorious drag bar in the 1970s), the recently published A Double Life, and several photographs made during the last year.
Nan Goldin began photographing at the age of 16. Internationally recognized, her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography along many others. In 1996 her work will be the subject of a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art.