Yesterday I went along to the Irish Musuem of Modern Art in Dublin to meet a group of Irish students all studying with the OCA. We were going to see an exhibition of Nan Goldin’s work that spans her career from the late 1960’s up to more recent work all side by side. It was so big that I didn’t manage to get around everything. I began with the ballad of sexual dependency. I must confess I didn’t know very much about the work before the visit and what I did know was based on assumptions I had made of it based on the limited single images I had seen in the past. This work was presented as an audio slide show that is 48 minutes long. The images are accompanied with music and Golden says that the songs provide the narrative to the piece. I found the Ballad of sexual dependency compelling viewing. I felt like I was privy to a very personal visual diary – Godin herelkf describe the work as the diary she allows others to look at, something I read after seeing the work – that is portraying a very honest and intimate life with all its ups and downs, its highs and lows. The images are unflinching, even visceral. We see the birthday parties, the weddings and funerals as well as moments of sexual intimacy, domestic violence, grief and more. Larry Clarke’s Tulsa images came to mind, I guess because both photographers were making work that came from their own personal lives, of their friends. The strong colour really stands outs too as well as the use of flash all of which give some of the images a high contrast, harsh feel that really conveys a mood of the time I feel. I felt I could see similarities between some of the images in this series and Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi too. It was interesting too to see the way the work was delivered via an audio slideshow. Not something you see to often but in this case it really worked. I think the scale of the images on the screen was really effective and it felt like I was seeing a short film. If I had seen the images as prints on a wall I am not sure they would have had the same impact. Also the sound track was very interesting too.
Also on display outside the projector room was a large selection of other works by Goldin including a lot of work from Ireland. Goldin is friends with an artist, Vivienne Dick, who is originally from Donegal. Dick herself is an accomplished artist and has a show, 98% stardust which is in an adjoining gallery. The two women visited Donegal and Ireland together over many years. The Irish work also has a very personal and intimate feel to it. One image in particular entitled Vivienne at her mothers grave stood out for me. It’s an image of an intensely personal and private moment that I found myself standing and staring at for a long time. The image captures the expression on Vivienne Dick’s face in a way that words can only fail to do justice to. The show is on until October and I fully intend to revisit it more than once.