The diaristic photography of Nan Goldin from the 1970s to the present is at once deeply personal and resoundingly universal. Through her camera, a self-proclaimed extension of her own body, Goldin captures her world as it unfolds before her, against a backdrop of drag bars, New York City nightclubs, hotel rooms, hospitals, bathrooms and mirrors. After leaving her parents' suburban home at the age of thirteen, Goldin began to take pictures of the people who inhabited her evolving surroundings, with whom she formed a kind of alternate family, a 'chosen' family. Her thousands of photographs, taken in Boston, New York, Provincetown and abroad, offer a kaleidoscopic narrative of her personal history that not only relays her experience with unvarnished candor, but also pays homage to the people and places that helped to write it. In "creating a history by recording a history," Goldin sheilds her memories from revision or erasure by preserving them permanently in photographic form.
Nan Goldin: Family History traces the two notions of "family" and "history"as they intertwine in Goldin's singular body of work. Throughout the artist's visual autobiography, in which her subjects move with blithe abandon, intimacy is ubiquitous; in the form of ordinary gestures—the cast of a gaze or the curve of a hand—Goldin reveals the presence of love, rapture, pain or loss in her own encounters, as well as in those of her friends and lovers. Collectively, and at times repeatedly, these photographs impart an image of kinship that helps shape our modern understanding of both the constitution and documentation of that which we call family.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, Nan Goldin: Diving for Pearls merges the artist's deep admiration for the artworks of the past with a lifelong dedication to her most immediate circle of friends. Invited by the Louvre, she photographed artworks of her choice at the museum and, guided by aesthetic and associative considerations, connected them to earlier photographs of her friends and lovers. In this way she not only draws inspiration from the rich sources of art history but revisits her own oeuvre of the last 40 years. The striking similarities between the two different pictorial worlds exert an intense dynamic on the viewer. The series, which yielded over 400 photographs, was shown for the first time in its full scope at the Kestnergesellschaft in Hannover, Germany. For this occasion, Diving for Pearls was conceived as an independent artist book which, alongside Goldin’s newest work "Saints," contains a selection of photographs that have never been published before.