Nan Goldin: This Will Not End Well
Various Engagements / 2023–2026

Nan Goldin, Elephant Mask, Boston, 1985 © Nan Goldin

The internationally celebrated artist Nan Goldin has come to be known not only for her remarkable talent and visionary career, but also for her uncompromising social commitment. Her prolific work speaks of the facets of human lives in such an intimate and inclusive way, at times it can almost feel overwhelming. The viewer is touched by the stories told in her pictures, recognized as a quiet testimony of human social conditions. Her work has opened the space for a new photographic genre and inspiring a generation. Her political involvement has been deeply intertwined with her persona and her practice, together bringing visibility and providing a voice to people who have historically outcast.

The exhibition, This Will Not End Well, starting at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, continues to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam through January 28, 2024. The tour will then continue to Berlin, at the Neue Nationalgalerie (November 2024 – February 2025), to Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan (October 2025 – February 2026) ending in Paris at the Grand Palais in September of 2026. It is one of the most comprehensive exhibitions of Goldin’s work to date. There are pictures included from The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1981–2022), her most renowned book that marked the beginning of it all; The Other Side (1992–2021), that is, in her own words, “a book about beauty. And about love for my friends,” documenting the lives of her friends belonging to the LGBTQ+ community; Sisters, Saints and Sibyls (2004–2022) that starts from the memory of her beloved and lost sister to talk about the condition of women; Fire Leap (2010–2022) that depicts her godchildren and her friends’ children, capturing an awareness free of societal limitations; Sirens (2019–2020), that uses the connection to ancient mythology to talk about drug addiction, as does Memory Lost (2019–2021), that is specifically about her own addiction and her recovery from it.

 

Nan Goldin, French Chris on The Convertible, New York City, 1979 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Brian and Nan in Kimono, 1983 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Heart-Shaped Bruise, New York City, 1980 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Gina at Bruce’s Dinner Party, New York City, 1991 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Couple on the blue beach, n.d., from digital slideshow ‘Memory Lost’, 2019–2021 © Nan Goldin

Goldin became known to the public with her astonishing work, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, in which all her most important themes surfaced – themes which were to remain throughout her later works. The pictures are portraits of her friends, of herself and her boyfriend at the time, Brian, documenting their happy moments and their struggles through love and addiction. Fearless in her depiction beyond these themes was recognized a societal issue, the toxic relationship she had with Brian who was repeatedly abusive. One of the most powerful self-portraits contained in the series is Goldin one month after being battered (1983). Her face covered with bruises after being struck for the last time and almost losing an eye as a result, this picture is a strong denouncement of violence and its consequences, to the dangers of being in abusive relationships, and an open yet intimate appeal to find the strength to finally say no and to free herself.

 

Nan Goldin, The Hug, New York, 1980 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Falling buildings, Rome, 2004 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Fashion show at Second Tip, Toon, C, So and Yogo, Bangkok, 1992, from slideshow ‘The Other Side’, 1992–2021 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Couple in bed, Chicago, 1977 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Self-portrait with eyes turned inward, Boston, 1989 © Nan Goldin

The Other Side is a homage to her drag, trans and queer friends, showing them in their everyday life and in their public fight for recognition. It is a work of love and tenderness, that speaks about a beauty and a power that many were not considering at the time. Jimmy Paulette after the parade, NYC (1991) is an amazing portrait of one of her friends, depicted staring directly into the camera with such pride and confidence in the fight for the recognition of one’s own place in the world. This is something that the LGBTQ+ community is unfortunately still very familiar with, having to constantly live with the impermenance of their rights in many countries including the U.S. as seen in the increasing number of bills that passed in recent year against their basic civil rights – bills that have stemmed plainly from homophobia and transphobia rathar than having any base in constitutional law. This body of work is about friendship and support, and unfortunately about memory, as many of her friends would then die from the AIDS epidemic. This collective trauma connects with Goldin’s personal trauma of losing her own sister at a young age, and becomes the segue to the subsequent chapters in her work.

 

Nan Goldin, Nan one month after being battered, 1984 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, C Performing as Madonna, Bankok, 1992 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Left: Bea Putting On Make-up, Boston, 1973 / Right: Mark and Mark, Boston, 1978 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Picnic on the Esplanade, Boston, 1973 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Self-portrait at The Other Side, Boston, 1972 © Nan Goldin

The suffering of losing many of her friends because of HIV brings her back to the origins of her own trauma, the death of her sister Barbara and through Sisters, Saints and Sibyls she tries to deal with the pain of it all. Barbara was Nan’s older sister, who unfortunately died at a very young age, never understood and recognized by the people who were supposed to take care of her. This work is also the first where Goldin starts to use old pictures from family albums and brings to light the family traumas. Barbara in front of family house, Silver Spring, MD (1964) seems to be a simple portrait of a young woman inside her garden with eyes looking forward, but reveals beneath it the sad life of abuse and limitations she had to survived until death. Sisters, Saints and Sibyls begins with Barbara and connects her to the story of Saint Barbara, who died because she rebelled against her father in her quest for spirituality and takes this opportunity to speak about the condition of women. In the light of increasing instances of violence against women on an international scale – with femicide continuing at the striking rate of one woman killed almost every three days in “civilized” countries like Italy – this series speaks to the hearts of people who believe time is overdue that women be given the space and the freedom they deserve and “is a tribute to my sister and to all rebellious women struggling to survive in society.”

 

Nan Goldin, Misty and Jimmy Paulette in a Taxi, NYC, 1991 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Barbara in front of family house, Silver Spring, MD, 1964 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Butch in the tub, NYC, 1988 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Jimmy Paulette after the parade, NYC, 1991 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Cookie at Tin Pan Alley, New York City, 1983 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Amanda at the sauna, Hotel Savoy, Berlin, 1983 © Nan Goldin

Her connection with past histories and fables as a way to explore contemporary issues continues with Sirens, where she uses the ancient Greek myth of the siren to speak of the pleasures and the pains of drug addiction. Being someone who suffered from drug addiction, Goldin herself has had particular insight on the matter. Memory Lost also deals with addiction, but this time in a much more personal way, talking about herself and her process of healing. This work resonates also in her personal life, since in 2017 she established the action group Prescription Addiction Intervention Now (P.A.I.N.). While helping people recovering from their addictions through various means, the group also sought justice against the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma who were found largely responsible for the overprescription of OxyCotin and the start of the opioid epidemic which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Through her association, Goldin was able to help call attention to this injustice, and many museums today have now removed any trace of this family from their collections.

 

Nan Goldin, C as Madonna in the dressing room, 1992 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Sirens, 2019-2021 / Installation view at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery

Nan Goldin, Left: Orlando and Lily doing ballet, Brooklyn, New York, 2006 / Right: Bruno with the tattoo, Naples, 1995, from the digital slideshow ‘Fire Leap’, 2010–2022 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, The Priory distorted in reflection, London, 2002 © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, Nikki in a box, 2010-2022 © Nan Goldin

The last book included in the exhibition is Fire Leap, depicting the world through the eyes of children. Their dignity tries to show the impact of society on forging people, and wishes for a life much freer of constraints and limitations. As the artist says “When children arrive, they know everything, and life teaches them to forget.” Portraits like Nikki in the box or Bruno with the tattoo demonstrate the power of childhood, in being so naïve yet so strong at the same time, and the limitation that the stereotypes of adulthood can impose on them.

All of Goldin’s projects have been shown since the very beginning in many different ways, as series of pictures, books, and slideshows. Goldin began using slideshows already during the ‘80s, sharing her work in small clubs and underground spaces. The slideshows were and remain the foundation of her artistic practice, adding new images to the previous ones in the prospect of an open and never-ending project. At the Stedelijk Museum, most of her works will be presented in this form. All of her projects came to be a continuous portrayals of her life and the people surrounding her. The power of her work lies in her ability to tell these stories without fear, pressure or judgment. They are able to portray the ugly and the beautiful sides of life, with such intuition and freedom she is rightly considered as one of the great contemporary photographers.

 

Nan Goldin: This Will Not End Well
Various Engagements / 2023–2026
Publication curated by Steidl and Moderna Museet

Exhibition Calendar

Moderna Museet, Stockholm
October 29, 2022 – February 26, 2023

Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
October 7, 2023 – January 28, 2024

Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
November 23, 2024 – February 23, 2025

Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan
October 9, 2025 – February 15, 2026

Grand Palais, Paris
March – September 2026

Two Years into Ukraine
ARTPIL / Prescription .147
More terrible is love in Kyiv than magnificent Venetian passions. Butterflies fly light and maculate into bright tapers. Dead...
+
Federica Patera & Andrea Sbra Perego
A Double Interview
With our work, we aim to shape the creative process: what is represented is not the content of the...
+
Sony World Photography Awards 2024
Winners & Finalists Announced
This diverse selection of photographs in this annual award is a window to the world, revealing fascinating points of...
+
30 Under 30 Women Photographers / 2024
Selections Announced
Artpil proudly announces the 30 Under 30 Women Photographers 2024. For its 15th Edition, this annual selection continues to...
+
BAM Winter/Spring 2024
Jan 15 – Jun 9, 2024
Experience the power of artistic community with BAM’s program. As bands play, dancers whirl, voices raise, and audience members...
+
WAR, and the Declaration of Human Rights
75 year Anniversary
Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family...
+
74th Berlin International Film Festival
February 15–25, 2024
The Berlinale is a place for dialogue and the exchanging of ideas. The international situation once again prompts us...
+
Edition Block 1966–2022
Feb 10, 2023 – Feb 25, 2024
Since the 1960s, René Block has been a key figure in the European art world, his gallery helping to...
+
Two Years into Ukraine
ARTPIL / Prescription .147
More terrible is love in Kyiv than magnificent Venetian passions. Butterflies fly light and maculate into bright tapers.
+
Federica Patera & Andrea Sbra Perego
A Double Interview
With our work, we aim to shape the creative process: what is represented is not the content of the...
+
Sony World Photography Awards 2024
Winners & Finalists Announced
This diverse selection of photographs in this annual award is a window to the world, revealing fascinating points of...
+
30 Under 30 Women Photographers / 2024
Selections Announced
For its 15th Edition, Artpil proudly announces the 30 Under 30 Women Photographers for 2024.
+
BAM Winter/Spring 2024
Jan 15 – Jun 9, 2024
Experience the power of artistic community with BAM’s program. As bands play, dancers whirl, voices raise, and audience members...
+
WAR, and the Declaration of Human Rights
75 year Anniversary
Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family...
+
74th Berlin International Film Festival
February 15–25, 2024
The Berlinale is a place for dialogue and the exchanging of ideas. The international situation once again prompts us...
+
Edition Block 1966–2022
Feb 10, 2023 – Feb 25, 2024
Since the 1960s, René Block has been a key figure in the European art world, his gallery helping to shape art history.
+
  • Taysir Batniji: Disruptions
    Publication
    Loose Joints
    International

    Batniji’s disrupted images visualise both the current violence and historical repression imposed on Palestine through digitally degraded images of video calls with his family in Gaza. Palestinian artist Taysir Batniji’s diverse practice is often tinged with impermanence and fragility, drawing inspiration from his subjective experience and its relation to current events and history. (more…)

  • Miriam Bäckström: Consumer
    Jan 18 – Mar 24, 2024
    Kohta
    Helsinki, Finland

    Miriam Bäckström: Consumer in the larger gallery presents new sculptural tapestry work by the Swedish artist, who started showing internationally as a conceptual photographer in the late 1990s and is also known for her films, texts and collaborations with actors. For more than ten years Bäckström has been working with machine-woven images, realising a number of large-scale commissions for public spaces. (more…)

  • Dorothy Sing Zhang: Like Someone Alive
    Publication
    Art Paper Editions / APE
    International

    Dorothy Sing Zhang unveils a compelling portrayal of humanity’s vulnerable state during sleep. The scene is set in the bedrooms of others. One is asked to be asleep, a squeeze cable release is placed under the pillow. The chance of one’s unconscious body rolling over and triggering the camera results in an exposure. Like Someone Alive expands these boundaries by withdrawing the traditional relationships between the photographer, the object and the camera. (more…)