Without a doubt, Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is one of the most iconic series of photographs ever to hit the printer. An intimate and unflinching look at the artist and her friends’ lives as they resided in New York in the 80s, faced with abusive relationships and drug addictions, the controversial book took the art world by storm when it was published in 1986.
Her history before the now-infamous images surfaced remains a little less known. However, an exhibition at Torino’s Guido Costa Projects Gallery is bringing those early days to the forefront in Nan Goldin, a show displaying work created when the photographer was little more than a teenager making her foray into the New York art scene. Uncovering the images last year when Goldin herself stumbled across an old box of images taken in Boston during the 1970s, the photos document the city’s queer and club scenes, with many images unseen until now.
With over 50 photographs on display, the show also cherry picks from Dazzle Bag, her first major retrospective at the Whitney Museum in 1996, and her books The Other Side and A Double Life, featuring images taken between 1970 and 1974. Tracing her workings with colour and her first attempts at creating visual narratives, these rarely seen images document the fledgling beginnings that would lead to the creation of the 1986 book – building her into the visionary we know today.