so the story goes
The Art Institute of Chicago  
  tina barney
September 16 - December 3, 2006 philip-lorca dicorcia
nan goldin
sally mann
larry sultan

Tina Barney
Philip-Lorca diCorcia
Nan Goldin
Sally Mann
Larry Sultan
Recommended Reading


    Self-portrait, 1978–1994/1995 Empty Beds, Lexington, Massachusetts, 1979
    Cookie at Tin Pan Alley, 1983 Self-portrait at New Year 's Eve, Malibu, 2006

    Arguably no artist, and certainly no photographer, of this era has created a more symbiotic relationship between life and art than Nan Goldin. For 35 years it has been her obsession to record her world, and not once has she arranged or directed the subjects of her pictures. In a perfect complement of technique and subject, an unsteady finger on the shutter release matches the swoon of lovers or the euphoria of a party, just as warm, interior light steeps a figure in isolation, amplifying the shade of the drink in front of her.

    Goldin has said of this fusion of approach and theme that “to photograph from your own life has these components of risk and uncontrollable possibilities and subtext that you can’t impose upon the photos; they come from experience.” Goldin, much like an early Kodak enthusiast, snaps away, fully embracing photography’s potential for immediacy, emotion, and anecdote. Quite unlike either historical snapshots or today’s family photos, her pictures present the very subjects considered outside the socially regulated realm. As viewers, we witness moments of utmost intimacy— lovemaking, hospitalization, violence, addiction and the rollercoaster of human emotions that accompany them. We also see the artist herself over the years in numerous self-portraits, which are just as revealing and forthright as her photographs of others.

    Goldin’s most legendary work, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1979–2001), debuted as a slideshow in the bars and clubs of New York’s artistic demimonde. Each time, Goldin set the show to different music and prepared different arrangements of the slides in order to more fully narrate the prevalent themes: couples, gender roles, love, alienation, and dependency. Pivotal to the piece was her own destructive and dependent relationship with a man named Brian. As the 40-minute show progresses, Brian and others appear rushing forward on screen and receding again, in an almost cinematic mimicry of the nonlinear fashion of memories. Goldin’s slideshow offers up a more exposed and potentially more honest version of the domestic slideshow ritual, a tradition that is just as culturally determined as that of the snapshot. Her photographs create a dialogue about socially accepted notions of identity, relationships, and community and the experiences that fall outside of them.

    Goldin’s own youth, drug abuse, bisexuality, and her friendships with gays and transvestites placed her squarely in the midst of what would become known as the AIDS crisis. Her closest friend and longtime subject, artist Cookie Mueller, died from the disease on November 10, 1989. That same day, Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing opened in New York. The exhibition, curated by Goldin, marked the first significant gathering of art about and by those with AIDS and led to a national day of awareness. Reflecting on her photographs of Cookie, Goldin has said, “I used to think I couldn’t lose anyone if I photographed them enough. . . . In fact, they show me how much I’ve lost.” In Gotscho Kissing Gilles, Goldin portrays the tender, excruciating emotions of loss, just as she has captured the delight of first love in her photographs of Simon and Jessica, or her own enthrallment with a new love of her own. Indeed, her pictures are relatable glimpses into the complex nature of relationships, prompting us to consider what it might look like if we took such revealing pictures of our own.


    Web site

    Matthew Marks Gallery


    Nan Goldin: I’ll Be Your Mirror. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art/Scalo, 1996.

    Ballad of Sexual Dependency. Aperture, 1986, 2001.

    The Other Side. Scalo, 1993.

    Tokyo Love. Scalo, 1995.

    Ten Years After. Scalo, 1998.

    Nan Goldin. Scalo, 2001.

    Devil’s Playground. Phaidon, 2003.

    Fantastic Tales. Palmer Museum of Art, 2005.

    Nan Goldin. Phaidon, 2005.

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    Next artist: Sally Mann

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