Saturday, 8 November 2014

Photographic Inspiration #2- Nan Goldin (Domestic Violence Trigger Warning)

I first discovered Nan Goldin's work when I was at university. What drew me to her was the way she took snapshot photography and made it raw, colourful and sometimes overwhelmingly beautiful. Because her subject matter was her friends it allowed her to capture a certain kind of intimacy and sense of interaction that a lot of staged photographs cannot manage. Everything feels like a story but everything feels alive too.

The first book of hers I saw was The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. Probably still her most famous collection of photographs. They feature sex, drugs, AIDS, violence and tenderness and make it all infinitely interesting to look at. The subject aren't always easy to see but to do so allows us a voyeuristic insight into the lives of men and women who were living the 70s and 80s to the fullest.

I once saw an exhibition at the Tate Modern called Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera which she was a part of. The show featured a roughly 45 minute slideshow of The Ballad of Sexual Dependency in a darkened room with a music soundtrack and for the whole time I couldn't take my eyes off of the screen. No matter what the image. 

Nan Goldin, Nan One Month After Being Battered, 1984

She is still working today but for me the photos that make up her Ballad of Sexual Dependency are the ones which hold the most intrigue. There is something in them that I know I could never achieve. A sense of place and time and a grittiness that comes only from living your art. 

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