By Suzanne Charlé | December 12, 2016 | Culture
Nan Goldin's MoMA exhibition, “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency,” depicts the intensity of love and loss through snapshots in time.
Nan Goldin’s photographs—including 1983’s Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City—reveal dark corners in her subjects’ emotional lives and in the city itself.
The Museum of Modern Art’s must-see exhibition this season is Nan Goldin’s operatic work “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency.” The three-part installation—posters and book proofs, photos, and a slideshow—arcs back to the 1980s, when Goldin first started documenting her friends’ lives and her own in snapshot-like photos, and showed them at art spaces like the OP Screening Room and dives like the Mud Club and Tin Pan Alley, where she worked as a bartender.
Confessional pictures reveal life as Goldin’s crowd lived it: in the bars, dark streets, and motel bedrooms and broken-tile bathrooms of Berlin, Boston, and Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Goldin describes the subject matter she so unflinchingly records as “the density and flavor of life;” Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA’s chief curator at large, calls it “the human condition.”
In the gallery, millennials eagerly take selfies of Goldin’s photos, including one of the artist bruised and battered by her boyfriend (“the central image of ‘The Ballad,’” notes Goldin). Lucy Gallun, assistant curator of photography, is pleased but not surprised: “Nan’s photos are very much about living in the moment.” The visitors, many of whom are seeing the works for the first time, “are responding to those big, full moments—moments of violence, of lust, of pain, of love.” Through February 12, 2017, 11 W. 53rd St., 212-708-9400
PHOTOGRAPHY BY THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK. ACQUIRED THROUGH THE GENEROSITY OF JON L. STRYKER