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Thematic and Chronological Survey of Nan Goldin’s Work in Berlin at the State Museum of Modern Art

December 25, 2010

Nan Goldin – Berlin Work. Photo: Jansch / Berlinische Galerie.

BERLIN.- Nan Goldin’s photographs are pictures of her life. Their unending wealth and shimmering colours show Goldin’s “family” – her friends, acquaintances, lovers. After leaving her parents’ house at the age of 14, she became part of a subcultural scene of drag queens, transvestites and homosexuals, first in Boston and then in New York’s Lower East Side from 1978 onwards. In 1991 she came to Berlin for one year on a grant from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) and remained here, with only brief interruptions, until 1994. Since then, she has been returning to the city repeatedly.

The exhibition NAN GOLDIN – BERLIN WORK by the State Museum of Modern Art, Photography and Architecture presents 80 selected photographic works produced in Berlin between 1984 and 2009, as well as previously unpublished archive material from the artist’s own collection. Two tableaux of work, the so-called “grids”, supplement the photographs as narrative sequences, introducing key themes and figures from this period and so making a decisive contribution to the viewer’s understanding of Goldin’s image of Berlin.

Reference to the Berlinische Galerie is not only given because of the artist’s stay in Berlin. In 1996, the work “Self-portrait in my blue bathroom” (1992) was donated to the collection of the state museum. The exhibition therefore provides a link to the museum’s own collection and underlines its international character. On the one hand, NAN GOLDIN – BERLIN WORK brings together photos already shown and published elsewhere; on the other hand, it presents entirely new material.

The exhibition shows a thematic and chronological survey of work that Nan Goldin was able to realise during her lengthy stay in Berlin. Portraits, interiors, self-portraits, still-lifes and street scenes offer an insight into the life of a bohemian that goes much deeper than the customary clichés. With its snapshot aesthetics, her photography appears to place no emphasis on carefully composed and realised coloured prints. It exalts those people who usually play the part of outsiders in society and its visual culture, making them into the key subject of the image.

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