The Ballad of Sexual Dependency
Not on view
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from The Charles Engelhard Foundation, the Mrs. Percy Uris Bequest, the Painting and Sculpture Committee and the Photography Committee
Rights and reproductions
© Nan Goldin
Nan Goldin has described The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, a photographic narrative depicting her extended family of friends, as “the diary I let people read.” Using the amateur format of the slide show on a monumental scale, she created a chronicle of East Village punk bohemia through an always-changing compilation of nearly seven hundred images accompanied by a synchronized soundtrack. The progression of snapshots reveals the visual vocabulary of her friends’ styles and behavior, as well as the squalid charm of bohemian addiction, with candor and intimacy. She tenderly records drag queens, women looking into mirrors, girls in bathrooms and barrooms, and empty beds, along with various forms of sex and sexuality. In her words, the project shows “exactly what my world looks like, without glamorization, without glorification.” Goldin began showing this work as early as 1978 in downtown New York clubs and bars, and she continued to add to and adjust the selection of images and music until 1992.