Door 4: Nan Goldin

What is privacy? Where does it start? In times of social media and instant blogging such questions are immanent and make Nan Goldins work seem not as extreme as it was at the beginning of the 70's and 80's. At that time, this was something never done before and shocked people.

The photographer was born in 1953 in Washington, D.C., but grew up in Boston. She initially got in touch with a camera through a friend in 1968. Nan had her first solo show already in 1973, which was about living with drag queens with whom she lived since age 18. She got introduced to them by her friend David Armstrong, also a photographer, who is as Nan Goldin, Jack Pierson, Mark Morrisroe, and other artists, part of the Boston School.

After graduating from School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, now Tufts University, in 1978 she moved to New York. She settled in the post-punk, new wave scene as well as the gay subculture of late 70's and early 80's, documenting her and their lives. She calls that circle of friends her tribe, which she described as bonded not by blood, but by a similar morality, the need to live fully and for the moment.

Between 1979 and 1986 she created her most famous work, initially a slideshow then turned into a book, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. The name is from Berthold Brecht's Threepenny Opera. In this series of photos, as the name predicts, she captured the relationships of herself and her tribe and all that comes along including violence, drug use, ...

Her photographic style is raw, unfiltered, honest and non-judgemental. In general, her work is described as a journal made public. Nan Goldin does not chase a certain picture, but rather captures her experiences, which then become pictures.

Recurring themes in her work are love, gender, domesticity, and sexuality. The New York Times nicely summarized it that she forged a genre, with photography as influential as any in the last twenty years.