The Ballad Of Sexual Dependencey: A Summary

Thanks to all who have contributed to the discussion on Nan Goldin’s ‘Ballad Of Sexual Dependencey’. It has been a great month. We have compiled an archive of the posts below for future reference and will also be listed under the reading list page.

Synopsis: Nan Goldin – ‘The Ballad Of Sexual Dependency’
Share your thoughts on Nan Goldin’s ‘Ballad of Sexual Dependecy’
Nan Goldin: Some food for thought #1
Nan Goldin: Some food for thought #2
Lloyd Spencer on ‘Ballad of Sexual Dependency’, a personal reflection
Niall McDiarmid on ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’, a personal reflection
Matt Johnston on ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’, a personal reflection

Matt Johnston on ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’, a personal reflection

I have never truly enjoyed Goldin’s ‘Ballad’ as much as I feel I should, but I have always had a copy on my shelf.

I have it because of the confirmation it provides that turning one’s camera onto your own ‘tribe’, onto what you know and live, can be as interesting as a trans-continental adventure with a plate camera and entourage of assistants. Goldin’s friends and ‘characters’ may be more universally interesting than many but if another photographer had parachuted into these situations, the result I am sure, would not be looked at with the same appreciation ‘Ballad’ is today.

I have a copy of ‘Ballad’ to challenge me, I have bought too many books based on their aesthetics and subject matter that have gone on to rarely be opened. I know what is in them, I understand it, I like it, I know it. ‘Ballad’ is a beautifully honest, yet awkward film to me, the kind that you will keep watching, and re-watch, and discuss, but never truly understand, and never fully enjoy.

I am also frustrated by the book. I am aware that a book may rarely give a complete view of a subject, but ‘Ballad’ seems to be missing so much, the work lives far beyond the pages, in slide shows, and music and talks, in bars and rooms once occupied by Goldin and her tribe. I feel the book only scratches the very surface of a much larger being.

I am glad to hear others views on this book, if only to be reassured that I am not the only one who has a strange respect rather than love relationship with it.

©NAN GOLDIN

– Matt Johnston

Niall McDiarmid on ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’, a personal reflection

Thanks to Niall McDiarmid for this personal reflection, for those that do not know Niall, you can check out his fantastic ‘Crossing Paths’ project here. And follow on twitter here – @niallmcdiarmid

In the late 90s I picked up a first edition of Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency in a well-known secondhand shop on London’s King Road. Surprisingly it was only £6, a bargain as it transpired, piled among other reduced to clear gardening titles.

I had read of it but in those pre-internet days, not seen the work.  It seems odd to think that book dealers would overlook such a collectable title now but on a quick glance, it’s easy to understand why. The book has the feeling of a self-published, 5 year long personal photo-diary of a group of 20 somethings having a hedonistic lifestyle that started as fun but ended a little dark and dangerous. Snapshots, direct flash, sex, drugs, drag queens, domestic violence, good times, bad times are all there.

Although most of the pictures are captioned, I found myself flicking through trying to work out who was who, what the relationships between the characters were, how they happened to end up in New York, London, Brighton, Berlin etc. I have the feeling that over the 5 years there were many shots taken but the editing is really well done and it sits together like it all took place over a couple of weeks

There are echoes of predecessors like William Eggleston and Gary Winogrand in the work but to me really it seems like a new direction in photography that led to many others well-known names such as Wolfgang Tillmans, Terry Richardson, Corinne Day and Ryan McGinley.

Anyway, it’s a great book and worth a look if you haven’t seen it.

– Niall McDiarmid

©NAN GOLDIN

 

 

Lloyd Spencer on ‘Ballad of Sexual Dependency’, a personal reflection

Thanks to Lloyd Spencer for this reflection on Goldin’s book. If you would like to share your thoughts, see here.

A fascinating, compelling book. “Diary” is correct as it is the rather seedy and dissolute life that provides the real interest. Writing compellingly about such a life requires more skill than taking photos. Finding the words for the chaotic collisions, the violence or traces of violence, deciding how much to quote or report, what perspective to adopt: photography doesn’t really pose any of these challenges.

Nan Goldin emerges as a competent photographer and someone who probably lived her life (or her life ‘then’) as a kind of unfolding photobook . . .

The result is a pretty unique work. But unique (unmatched) also in Goldin’s subsequent career…

– Lloyd Spencer

©NAN GOLDIN

 

 

Nan Goldin: Some food for thought #2

As mentioned in a previous post, there is an abundance of online resources for those looking to learn more about both ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’ and Nan Goldin herself. A few of the many great videos/slideshows are shown below: (And if you think we have missed a key piece, let us know.

The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, Nan Goldin and The Tiger Lilies, Les Rencontres d’Arles, 11 July 2009 (Slideshow)

Nan Goldin: Contacts Vol2 slideshow/narration

Nan Goldin: I’ll be your mirror (Documentary)





Nan Goldin: Photography and Love (Extract from BBC series ‘Genius of Photography’

Nan Goldin: Some food for thought #1

There is an abundance of online resources for those looking to learn more about both ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency’ and Nan Goldin herself. I have compiled just a few of these together, firstly looking at interviews:

Nan Goldin interviewed by Adam Mazur and Paulina Skirgajllo-Krajewska
Quote:
“I went to school and there was a teacher who showed me Larry Clark. It has entirely changed my work. I knew that there had been somebody else who had done [photographed] their own life.”

‘The Dark Room’: Nan Goldin interviewed by Sheryl Garratt
Quote:
“The music we were brought up on, the TV, the movies, the images our parents gave us aren’t of what relationships are really like. They didn’t prepare me, at least, for the ambivalence that’s normal in any real relationship”

Nan Goldin interview: Madonnas, skulls and a lamb with seven legs by Celia Walden
Quote:
“I’ve been called narcissistic, self-centred and voyeuristic but there are a lot of things in between, like compassion and love.”

I’ll be your Mirror: Interview with Nan Goldin by Kathy High
Quote:
“The most important thing about this film to me is that unlike slide shows, you can’t update them, and that everybody’s life has changed so much since that film. Greer is dead. David broke up with his boyfriend. Sharon and her girlfriend broke up. Both David and Sharon have lost about forty pounds. Bruce is back on drugs. There’s no way to update it, so it seems like historical fact, where it was only true for that year.”

Nan Goldin on the 80’s: Interview with Tom Holert
Quote:
“The text I wrote for The Ballad of Sexual Dependency was about what family meant to us. Perhaps I was idealizing what had gone on, but there was a solid basis.”

©NAN GOLDIN

And bonus:
Nan Goldin interviews Nobuyoshi Araki
“We met for the first time at Dug, his regular jazz bar in Shinjuku, where he presented me with a bottle of I.W. Harper Bourbon (his favorite drink) with my name on it. Now it’s stored there next to Robert Frank’s.”

– Matt