Nan Goldin: I'll Be Your Mirror

Nan Goldin, Author, Nan Goldin, Photographer, Elisabeth Sussman, With
Nan Goldin, Author, Nan Goldin, Photographer, Elisabeth Sussman, With Scalo Publishers $55 (492p) ISBN 978-3-931141-33-2
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
As this highly engrossing companion to a traveling mid-career retrospective suggests, photographer Goldin's influence has trickled in from the margins to the mainstream, from contemporary museum exhibitions to the latest Calvin Klein advertising campaign. Once a cult portraitist of drag queens, drug addicts and nightclub bohemians, Goldin has earned a broad audience and wide critical praise for a visually opulent, harshly intimate body of work. Arriving in New York in the early 1970s, Goldin began exhibiting The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, a constantly evolving, audio-visual slide show depicting the bacchanalian, at times nihilistic, demimonde of the Lower East Side and Times Square. Those heady days are chronicled here, as are their grim aftermath, evinced in Goldin's subsequent, lavishly colorful snapshots of friends afflicted with AIDS, of her own battering at the hands of a lover and of her recent recovery from drug addiction at McLean hospital in Belmont, Mass. An overview by curator Elizabeth Sussman, who places Goldin in an artistic context ranging from Larry Clark to Lucien Freud, is accompanied by personal commentary from an impressive cast of Goldin's friends, including camp movie actress Cookie Mueller and artist David Wojnarowicz (both of whom died of AIDS). Two other friends, Luc Sante and Darryl Pinckney, reminisce in separate essays about the edgy, outrageous and ultimately doomed Manhattan milieu commemorated in her early work. Other works include an interview with film critic J. Hoberman and a poem by James Fenton. This is not a scholarly analysis of Goldin's work but rather an emotionally charged look at her life and times and an extraordinary catalogue of her photographs unburdened by academic analysis. (Nov.)
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