Ribbon Around A Bomb

Femme Avant-core

Arts Bombast: Nan Goldin

“I knew from a very early age, that what I saw on tv had nothing to do with real life. So I wanted to make a record of real life. That included having a camera with me at all times.”
–Nan Goldin

[Goldin in 1976]

I learned about radical photographer Nan Goldin when I was looking at photos of the notorious Cookie Mueller. One photo in particular (the one immediately below, in fact) reminded me of Twin Peaks for some reason, so naturally, I had to know who snapped it. It turns out a lot of Goldin’s work has that same moody and disheveled feel to it, which is super common these days, but pretty renegade for art student at the time. Like most of Goldin’s subjects from the ’70s and ’80s (and also like Laura Palmer #justsaying), Mueller died young. She fell to AIDS in ’89, which had a profound effect on Goldin. She has said that most of her friends are positive or already dead from AIDS, and that she eventually realized that photographing people she loved would not save them. Still, Goldin was one of the first people to use art as a political expression about AIDS, and her work has been critical in humanizing the illness.

Most of the below photos are from Goldin’s ever-growing work The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, which began with the artist documenting New York’s underground punk and gay subcultures in the late ’70s.

Goldin has a book called I’ll Be Your Mirror, and in some exhibitions, she has included the song to accompany her work. Basically, you should play the song and look at the photographs again.

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