Photographer Nan Goldin
(American, b.1953) grew up in Boston, MA, where she started taking photographs as a teenager as a way of documenting the gay and transsexual communities she had been introduced to by her close friend and fellow photographer David Armstrong
, (American, b.1954). In these early works, she maintained a particular focus on images of drag queens, which continued as a powerful motif throughout her work. She attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where she began creating a body of work that would later form the basis of her most well-known project, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency
. This body of work consists of intimate portraits of her close friends presented in a slide show format, and celebrates alternative lifestyles and the emerging subcultures in New York City. She continued working on The Ballad
throughout the next two decades, and expanded the project to include photographs taken during her travels in Europe.
In the 1990s, Goldin also began to document the effect of the AIDS epidemic, as she experienced the deaths of many of her close friends. Goldin curated the controversial show Witnesses: Against our Vanishing
, which opened in New York in November 1989. The exhibition became the focus of a national debate when the National Endowment for the Arts withdrew its funding for the show after an essay was published in the catalogue directly criticizing several politicians. Goldin continues to document marginalized members of society in a familiar and personal manner, and has been the subject of numerous retrospectives at international institutions. In 2007, Goldin received the prestigious Hasselblad Award.