Nan Goldin was born in Washington D.C. in 1953. She grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, where she started to record her own life in photographs at the age of 16. She studied photography at the School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in the early seventies, where she documented the world of drag queens in remarkable black and white photographs.
She started to do colour photography around 1973. With growing psychological insight she made snapshot records of her friends that also showed great results in the fusion of colour and artificial light.
Nan Goldin has been living in New York since 1978. There she has developed her documentary photography into a kind of narrative diary recording her own life through the lives of her friends in the artistic underground of NYC. All her photographs come from a deep personal experience and compassion. They record her life through the world of drag queens, the gay-culture, bisexuals and transsexuals, through love relationships and the world of drugs and aids to the world of clinics and living sober in the age of aids.
As a narrative, Nan Goldin's photography is not so much based on single masterpieces as series of photographs that tell a story. In 1980 she started to make slide shows which she later developed into the famous Ballad of Sexual Dependency, which she has been developing ever since with a continuous 50 minutes flow of photographs accompanied with a soundtrack and performance improvisations. The name of the show comes from a song by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill in The Three Penny Opera.
The Ballad has been shown in art museums, art galleries and on art festivals all over Europe and the US, such as The Museum of Modern Art in NYC and The Berlin Film Festival. Nan Goldin will be performing The Ballad of Sexual Dependency at The University Cinema in Reykjav? Friday and Saturday 22nd and 23rd of October at the end of her exhibition at The National Gallery.
Nan Goldin made the documentary film I'll be your Mirror in 1995 in co-operation with Edmund Coulthard. It's is a documentary about her life and work as a photographer and artist, based on interviews, documentary shots and photographs, that gives a good insight into the world of Nan Goldin. The video edition of the film will be shown every day during her exhibition in the lecture hall of The National Gallery.
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