Nan Goldin’s Advice to the Young | Louisiana Channel

Iconic American photographer Nan Goldin shares her advice to young people.

“You have a lot more to say than Instagram. And a lot to experience in the real world. The most important thing is standing in front of another person and feeling empathy for them. And that can’t be done on the phone.”

One of her generation’s most important and influential artists, Nan Goldin (b. 1953), has revolutionized the art of photography through her frank and deeply personal portraiture. Over the last 45 years Goldin has created some of the most indelible images of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since the 1970s, her work has explored notions of gender and definitions of normality. By documenting her life and the lives of the friends who surround her, Goldin gives a voice and visibility to her communities. In the 1980s, these images of her “extended family” became the subject of her seminal slide show and first book The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. In 1985, her work was included in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s biennial. A decade later, in 1996, a major retrospective of her work opened at the Whitney and toured to museums throughout Europe. In 2001, a second retrospective of Goldin’s work, Le Feu Follet, was held at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and toured internationally as The Devil’s Playground. A third retrospective This Will Not End Well, opened at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, in the fall of 2022 and will travel internationally.

Among the artist’s other prominent works are Memory Lost, Sirens, Heartbeat, Fire Leap, All By Myself, and The Other Side. In 2004, as part of the Festival d’Automne, her work Sisters, Saints, and Sibyls was displayed in the Chapelle Saint-Louis de la Salpêtrière, Paris. A few years later, the Louvre specially commissioned a slide show, exhibiting the resulting Scopophilia in 2010.

Goldin has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Commandeur des Arts et Des Lettres from the French government in 2006, the Hasselblad Award in 2007, the Edward MacDowell Medal in 2012, and the Lucie Award for Achievement in Portraiture in 2014. Her work has been published extensively. Selected publications include The Other Side (1993), A Double Life (with David Armstrong, 1994), Tokyo Love (with Nobuyoshi Araki, 1995), I’ll Be Your Mirror (1997), Ten Years After (1997), The Devil’s Playground (2003), The Beautiful Smile (2008), Eden and After (2014) and Diving for Pearls (2016).

In 2017, the artist founded the group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), which addresses the crisis of the ongoing Drug War by targeting the pharmaceutical companies profiting from the addictions and deaths of over half a million Americans. PAIN advocates for harm reduction, decriminalization of drugs and life-saving treatments for drug users.

Nan Goldin was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner in June 2023. The interview took place in Nan Goldin’s home in Brooklyn, New York.

Camera: Sean Hanley
Edited by: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2023

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