Nan Goldin's work...

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Shawn Rahman, Dec 12, 2005.

  1. Shawn Rahman

    Shawn Rahman Subscriber

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    I have a feeling that hells-a-comin' for this, but I can't see what it is about Nan Goldin's work that makes her so revered.

    I admit I am drawn to her books whenever I hit a bookstore, but always put down her books very puzzled as to what the allure is.

    Photographers I don't like right away often grow on me. This has happened to me with photogs like Sally Mann and Cindy Sherman to Eggleston and Sternfeld. My tastes are quite diverse - I can't think of any genre I don't enjoy.

    What am I missing about Nan Goldin? Are there any fans on APUG?
     
  2. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    voyeurism
     
  3. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    I don't know her name or her work, and there doesn't seem to be much imagery on the web (although there are lots of biographical articles). Could you give a reference to some galleries?
     
  4. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    She did the photo essay book "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency". The book is sort of an autobiographical look at dysfunctional relationships that she and her group of friends were engaged in.

    I don't think there is anything remarkable about the images in the book. But the subject matter of sex, violence, abuse and gender roles make a perfect fit for the Aperture, NY/LA gallery in crowd. it is considered by many to be a landmark in photography, right up there with Robert Frank's The Americans.
     
  5. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    I don't fancy her work either. I think that Jim Chinn's analysis is spot on.
     
  6. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Googling IMAGES on Nan Goldin gives hundreds of her pictures (some repeated). Of course they are out of context, but none of them do anything for me. Maybe for someone who has lived that lifestyle?
     
  7. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Nan Goldin is a Cibachrome version of Diane Arbus, if you want. I find some of her images powerful, mostly when they capture a precise moment or a precise expression, but I also find many of hers overly simplistic, just in-your-face displays of intimacy.
     
  8. Daniel Grenier

    Daniel Grenier Member

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    Ditto, my friend, ditto.
     
  9. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Nan Goldin's work is to my eye pure crap. Maybe I will like it less as I see it more.
     
  10. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Count me in the majority on this issue. Nothing about her work interests me.
     
  11. donbga

    donbga Member

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  12. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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  13. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    For those who view photographic art as only to be employed in depicting things of beauty, there is no doubt that Goldins work will not resonate.

    For those who view photographic art as depicting some segment of the human condition or experience, then Goldins work does resonate because she is not a voyeuristic observer. It is through her immersion into the dynamics of what she portrays that she claims and obtains legitimacy for her imagery.

    Photographic art if it is only relegated to the realm employed for the portrayal of what we deem to be beautiful will miss the boat by miles.
     
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  15. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    I just googled her name (under the images option) and I'm speechless. This stuff looks like porn, and bad porn at that. There might be one or two environmental portraits/documentary work shot in there (Pyotr takin his aids something or another), but... I dunno, I don't get it. One day I'll understand the "art scene," I guess.
     
  16. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    Just a quick follow up on my previous post, I looked at some of her work in a couple of museum websites, and not all of it is porn-type stuff. Still unimpressive, in my opinion.

    Donald,

    I agree that there is some merit in showing diverse aspects of the human condition, but that alone does not make it good work. Lately I have come to believe that in order for an image to be good, it must address 3 criteria: Message, Design, and Craft. I think that a great image will have a strong message, great desing, and it will be technically strong. A good image can excell in 2 of 3 or be ok in all three. If you only address one of them, though, the image will most likely be mediocre.

    Of course, this is just a quick and dirty way of evaluating... I have also lately come to believe that any all or nothing effort in demarcation (good vs bad, art vs non art, etc...) is doomed for failure from the start. But you know what I mean.

    Anyway, I digress, and I apoligize if this is seen as a thread-hijack.

    André
     
  17. 127

    127 Member

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    I think there was a similar thread with similar opinions a year or two ago...

    I've actually seen one of her prints since then, and it hasn't raised my opinion of her.

    She apears to be stuck in a time warp as a 70's New York artist. No one has told her that meeting a gay person is no longer an "experience". In her world only cool artist types have sex, while the rest of us dream of being part of that exlusive world (sort of Sex and the City with more drugs).

    The 70's is over. Those 15 minutes are LONG past, and artists photographing each other being "outrageous" (by their definition), and dysfunctional is just incestuous and ego driven.

    Ian
     
  18. 127

    127 Member

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    On the contrary - it is through her immersion that any legitimacy is replaced by contrivance and ego. The scenes exist because she creates them. There is no authenticity when her life is a construction designed to further her "art".

    Ian
     
  19. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    Looks to me like a writer who can't write. She doesn't photograph very well either.
     
  20. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Anyone know of any books by worthwhile art historians that not only catalogue art's history, but also explain how, most particularly in the "modern" era, work gets to be considered great? Or at least notable? What little I've observed suggests that a strong personality, a powerful "network" and some down home aggressiveness doesn't hurt on the part of the artist or whoever is representing them but it would be unfair to extend that observation very far without concrete evidence.

    Also, I need to add that every week I get emails from Photo-eye offering books and prints by photographers that seem to run the gamut from great to abyssmal and yet all are being represented commercially by Photo-eye at least to the extent that Photo-eye is offering their work. How does that happen?
     
  21. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    With your first paragraph, I think you have answered your own question. (BTW, I do agree with you.) Now, if you want to muck it up with facts....

    Photo-eye sells books on photography. They have to appeal to all photographers by offering all types of books. That's why they offer all types of books. How does it happen. One. Publish a book. Two. Ask Photo-eye to offer it on their web site. While greatly simplified, I do believe that's what is done.
     
  22. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I agree with Donald that not every approach to photography has to be about beauty or a singular subject. The idea of the photo essay or book as a social commentary goes back at least to Walker Evans and James Agee cooperating in the book Let us Now Praise Famous Men. Others like Paul Strand explored using movies to expand their own social ideas via pictures.

    Eugene Smith took the idea of the photo essay to its highest level of expression and skill in the 50s. Currently Selgado is the true master.

    There are probably other examples, but Larry Clark's Tulsa was one of the first photo essay/books that was both voyuerism and autobiographical at the same time. These books paralleled the new trend in journalism where the writer no longer could be satisfied with reproting the facts, but began to make himself part of the story, providing work that was excepted as journalism. (Hunter Thompson, Hells Angels a late 60s example.)

    The problem I see with the current versions (including Goldin's) is that like most comtemporary art, the beginning point is usually about the artist. Their angst, their victimhood, their personal greivances against the world. Nothing wrong with looking at all the rotten things in the world, but when it is done through a prism of self-absorbtion and self-conceit, it makes for mostly pretty forgetable art that has no real resonnance outside the narrow confines of NY gallery and liberal college elites.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2005
  23. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    the "modern" era is long gone
     
  24. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    My problem is that if this person was writing a book, it would be full of run-on sentences, grammatical errors and misspellings. (Much like my postings).
    Nobody would bother reading such trash. Why give the visual arts the same leeway? Don't we care if something hurts the eyes and visually makes no sense?

    It's funny that post-modern writing has never taken off like it has in the visual arts.
     
  25. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Just a few years ago, if the question had been asked about Diane Arbus instead of Nan Goldin, I'm sure that the responses would have been much the same. Thus, a significant aspect of the question is really "is she a crappy photographer, or are we a bunch of outdated, closed-mind viewers?" In view of the fact that this entire web site is dedicated to (and presumably populated by) a Luddite culture, I don't think that trashing Goldin's work means very much. (PS, it looks like crap to me, too, but is it really bad, or am I just too unsophisticated to appreciate it?)
     
  26. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    Both. Collecting Hummels requires sophistication, right? You need to know one from the next....