Art, Books September 30, 2009 By Sarah Coleman
goldin cover Nan Goldin
Photography courtesy of Rizzoli New York

goldin title Nan Goldin

In the 1980s, photographer Nan Goldin rose to prominence with The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, an ambitious body of work that depicted the underbelly of New York’s East Village and Lower East Side. Shot with minimal equipment in low-light conditions, featuring depictions of drug use, sexual liaisons, and domestic violence, Ballad ushered in a style known as the “snapshot aesthetic” and influenced a whole generation of younger artists. In an era of Facebook and Snapfish, it’s easy to overlook Goldin’s significance — but in its time, Ballad was as bold and original as artistic statements get.
     As talented as she is, Goldin would have been nothing without the extensive network of friends and fellow artists who served as her subjects. One of her friends was Bette Gordon, an up-and-coming filmmaker who, in 1983, asked Goldin to document the making of her film Variety. Gordon and Goldin were both members of No Wave, a loose coalition of avant-garde filmmakers and musicians on the Lower East Side. Intensely collaborative, the No Wave artists shared ideas and equipment, played music and acted and lived together in the neighborhood’s famous cold-water walk-ups.

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