Growing up as a teenager in the 1960s in Boston, and then in New York in the 1970s, Nan Goldin has taken deeply personal, spontaneous, sexual and transgressive photographs of family, friends and lovers. Her most notable work called The Ballad of Sexual Dependency was originally created as a slideshow accompanied by music to entertain her friends. The show portrayed her friends, when they partied, got high, fought and had sex – many of them were part of the hard-drugs subculture of New York’s lower easter side.
“When I was 18, I started living with this man who was in his thirties in downtown Boston and I fell in with these drag queens. I started living with them and photographing them. That’s when I started taking pictures seriously. At that point I had no photography education. I was very affected by early Warhol films and by Fellini.”
Her epic series of richly colored, snap-shot-like photographs were soon published as fine art photography and the series grew into a forty-five-minute presentation of more than 900 images, accompanied by a musical soundtrack and published as an award-winning book.
Goldin calls the The Ballad of Sexual Dependency series “The history of a re-created family” – her new family had the mission to give itself over to “that part of your brain that is only satisfied by love, heroin, or chocolate”. In other words, escape the dependencies of ordinary life – of convenience and stability – and instead seek dependency on each other.
After her big success with The Ballad of Sexual Dependency she started to focus more on her self which led to a slide show with self-portraits called All by Myself. Then she made two series with drag queens, The Other Side and A Double Life, and together with Japanese Nobuyoshi Araki a series called Tokyo Love.