Totally heart Nan Goldin.
Nan Goldin, Nan and Brian in Bed, 1983
Nan Goldin, Nan, One Month After Being Battered, 1984
Thoughts on Nan Goldin’s self-portraits:
Nan Goldin’s photographs establish a diaristic approach to self-portraiture, blending art with autobiography. Goldin’s self-portraits portray her in her surrounding environment, with her friends, with her boyfriend, and in her daily life. Goldin has utilized the camera to take control of her surrounding situations and seems not to make statements on society as a whole as she explores herself and allows herself to be vulnerable through the lens. Susan Bright makes a good point when she states,
It’s easy to bare one’s soul to a mechanical instrument; it can be highly cathartic and one has to be accountable only to oneself and the inanimate camera…Autobiographical work is often read as a form of expressive therapy, and it is common for photographers to create a visual record of a personal tragedy or difficult time in life.
Goldin’s most famed 1984 self-portrait, “Nan, One Month After Being Battered”, is both confrontational and painful for the viewer, but important to be seen because it makes a statement on domestic violence. Our culture has become more visual and we are typically more moved by images than that of text. “Nan, One Month After Being Battered” and her 1983 self-portrait, “Nan and Brian in Bed”, show the photographer as vulnerable, yet strong.
With these self-portraits, she takes the abusive relationship in her own control through the use of the camera, and gets the images out to the world to be seen. By taking control, Goldin stands defiant, as a woman who will not remain hidden away from violence but instead will confront it through her art. Goldin offers the audience views into her life through photography and uses the camera as her visual journal. Her work is very personal and she is present in all of her photographs including her self-portraits. Nan Goldin is a photographer whose presence and voyeuristic exposure into her personal life are seen as vulnerable and strong. She has taken control of her abusive situation by capturing herself in these moments, and showing the world her pain.