The slide show Heartbeat by Nan Goldin, which has also been acquired by the Museum, was to be seen in De Hallen, Haarlem.
Heartbeat is a compilation of 245 portraits of ‘couples and lovers’, four different pairs caressing and engaging in sex. The English composer John Tavener wrote a kyrie eleison especially for Heartbeat. The music is performed by the Icelandic singer Björk. The presentation runs 14 minutes and 30 second. The whole is an intense ode to love.
Since the late 1960s Nan Goldin (b. Washington D.C., 1953) has been working on an atmospheric portrait of friends and acquaintances from her immediate environment, which concealed nothing. She concentrates on their night-life, on extravagantly dressed men and women, on gays, transvestites and transsexuals, drug addicts and AIDS sufferers. She photographs them in the most intimate situations: on the toilet, in the bath, drunken, masturbating, copulating, crying, dying. Nothing is posed. She stages nothing, gives no directions. Everything arises from the moment itself.
If her older work is permeated by death, illness, addiction and despair, her recent work is dominated by life, hope, passion and love. As she says herself, ‘The old work was about people’s behavior. In the last few years I’ve gotten more interested in their inner life, their relation to themselves and to me. The spiritual interests me now. I reflect what I see and feel. Perhaps with that I can break the glass wall between us and the world, even briefly.’ The work Heartbeat shows a new side in her oeuvre, a side that is almost at odds with the raw images of before, but is equally penetrating.
Together with Larry Clark, Nan Goldin was among the first who, in the tradition of Diane Arbus, to bring ‘realistic photography’ into the visual arts, and in doing so set many young artists on a new track. In addition, she has also been a major influence on fashion photographers such as Juergen Teller, Corinne Day and Mario Sorrenti, whose fashion reportage drops beauty and glamour and shows an emphatic leaning toward the extreme sides of life.