Nan Goldin is, and forever will be, a prominent and recognisable figure in the photography and filmmaking industry, having witnessed and portrayed the troubles of the centuries; from the AIDS pandemic in the ‘80s to the ever-growing issue of drug use and abuse. From one of her first well-known works, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1981-2022), to her most recent, Memory Lost (2019-2021), Goldin has expanded and evolved throughout the decades. The exhibition Nan Goldin: This Will Not End Well, on view until January 28th at the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam, seeks to combine her work into a rapturous composition of memories and trauma.
Telling and retelling the stories and nightmares the LGBTQIA+ subcultures have faced and delving into other societally taboo subjects like sex work and domestic violence, Goldin comes to a head with society, bringing awareness and understanding to the not-so-open public through the vulnerability of her photos. Multidimensional and triggering the senses, This Will Not End Well blends Goldin’s striking euphoric visuals with music and voice-overs in spaces that the public is absorbed into.
Split between six different rooms, Goldin worked alongside architect Hala Wardé to suit her pieces to the spaces in which her work is being displayed – “constituting a village” you may say, according to Stedelijk’s description of the exhibition. Primarily featuring portraits of herself and friends, Goldin takes ordinary moments of life and turns them into something esoteric. Through coloured lenses and the precise blurring of subjects, the photos capture the movement and emotion of society, delving into the hardships and beauty of relationships and intimacy, giving the feeling of bittersweet ecstasy.
Even though Goldin has been a staple in the contemporary photography and art worlds for decades, her awarded and celebrated documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodhsed has given the audience a new perspective on her as an artist and activis. Fighting against the crimes committed by members of the Sackler family, responsible for the biggest opioids crisis in the United States, Goldin’s figure has risen to power once again and has even landed her on the top of Artnet’s renowned Power 100 List, which seeks to find the most influential people in the arts each year.