CW: Nan Goldin’s work deals with issues of domestic violence and drug addiction. The articles I link to in this post are really interesting reads but include references to and photographs of these things and also discuss the suicide of her sister.
My photo today bears so little resemblance to the inspiration shot that it’s not really possible to call it a true tribute. But the lives and locations of the people in Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency are so removed from the lives of me and the people I photograph that I had to do more of an interpretation today.
Shot between 1979 and 1986, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency was first shown in 1985 as a 45 minute 700 image slide show set to music and then published as a book in 1986. These are not easy photos to look at. In fact you frequently have to turn away. She photographs her and her friends fucking in squalid settings, shooting up heroin, fighting. She captures herself as a victim of domestic violence in a self portrait called ‘Nan One Month After Being Battered’. Her friend who died of AIDS is photographed in an open coffin.
In this review in the New York Times says: “Her “Ballad” is open to charges of narcissism, exhibitionism, voyeurism and the glamorization of bad behavior, qualities that are partly what make it so riveting.”
The first photographer to shoot in the casual confessional diaristic style that we see now at every turn, Sean O’Hagan said in The Guardian: “We are now living to a degree in a world that Nan Goldin created long before the digital camera and Instagram made it ubiquitous: a self-absorbed, often revelatory world where the everyday and the exotic exist in uneasy cohabitation.”
The New York Times and Guardian links above are both interesting reads, but if you’ve got the appetite for more, Dazed magazine has an A-Z of Nan Goldin.
3 thoughts on “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency”
Thankyou for sharing. I’d never heard of her before, will definitely check her out
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I can see how her photos would be difficult to recreate. I love your tribute, both as a tribute, and as a gorgeous piece of photography in itself.
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