History of Photography
Spring 2003 Term Paper
Nan Goldin has been photographically documenting her life which encompasses her friends and lovers for over thirty years. Goldin's style of photography has been described as documentary with a "snapshot"-esque aesthetic. I would describe Nan Goldin's photography as having a very
personal and narrative quality that allows her visual diary to be presented to the viewing public in an open manner. She has photographed her surrogate family which are the people in her life, or what she considers her family so
that others may see them as she does. In "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency" Goldin says "My desire is to preserve the sense of peoples' lives, to endow them with the strength and beauty I see in them…I want to show exactly what my world looks like, without the glamorization, without glorification." Nan Goldin's images can be difficult to look at because they are brutally honest documents about the physical abuse, drug use and the
loss of friends to the AID's virus. Although there are many images that are unflattering of her friends, they are photographed with a sense of tenderness which makes Goldin's love for her subjects evident.
When I left my friends and family to move to New York I developed a connection to Nan Goldin because my photography became a visual diary of the surrogate family that I found in New York. After viewing Goldin's work
I felt increasingly confident in my ability to produce personal and intimate photographs about my life. Goldin has documented her life through the joy, laughter, and lovemaking, to the pain, vulnerability, and the loss of loved ones. Her images capture mundane everyday life moments as well as personal life changing dramas. I felt a personal connection to many of the photographs in "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency" because of my want to
be an independent person but my physical need to be dependant on others. Goldin's photographs illustrate the alienation and loneliness one can feel in a
relationship as well as the love and acceptance.
Nan Goldin's cinematic influence resounds in her work through her choice of lighting and the exaggerated saturation of color that dominant her later work. When I view Goldin's photographs I see each image as a still shot stolen from a movie. I just recently was able to view
Nan Goldin's work the way it should be presented, in slideshow form. Her still photographs though powerful to me, lacked the coherence that the slideshow accomplished.
Goldin's work has been criticized for being egotistical and "Excessively autobiographical" yet when making photographs about one's life how is it possible to exclude the author of the visual diary? Nan Goldin's work has been described as voyeuristic yet the images do not seem to make the viewer a voyeur instead it places the viewer in a position to be included in the action portrayed. Although Goldin has been compared to Larry Clark
and Diane Arbus for her...