"The characters in my films shot up drugs, pierced or cut themselves, beat each other up, sucked each other off, killed their parents, raped youngsters, etc. over harsh soundtracks produced by my friend Jim Thirlwell. The most popular of these films, FINGERED, was also the most controversial. At screening after screening, both in the States and abroad, I was routinely booed off the stage, attacked or shut down. Yet, the first time Lydia (the star and instigator of this movie) and I sat down to watch the finished product, she looked at me and said "This isn't hard enough". To me, making these films was like taking a big, fat, smelly dump then standing back and watching people marvel over it."
Well, so what? The French in the early 19th century were already gung-ho about épater le bourgeois, scaring off the middle-class out of their comfort, but what else?
Even if Nan Goldin irritates me at times, she's also a gifted artist and has made some poignant work that engages with the rough lives of people she was documenting. She's still making people uncomfortable now, as evidenced by the Elton John kerfuffle. I don't think that adds a lot to her value anyway, but if art is a pissing contest like Mr Kern purports, then she's pissing further away without the advantage of a penile tube!