Nan Goldin (Washington DC, 1953) is one of the most renowned contemporary photographers internationally. Her work forms the centrepiece of many large exhibitions, for instance the one entitled I'll Be Your Mirror held in the Whitney Museum in New York, confirmation of her work as a reference point in the current art scene.
This extensive retrospective, one of the largest exhibitions dedicated to the artist in Europe, is organised by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in collaboration with the Musée National d'Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou. It is made up of three hundred and fifty works displayed in the Palacio de Velázquez in the Retiro Park.
The exhibition delves into the themes present in her work and is separated into sections that span from her early black and white photographs, belonging to the series Boston Years (1969-1974), to her more recent work, for instance the four love stories from the installation Heart Beat (2000-2001) that featured the soundtrack composed by John Taverner and performed by Björk.
The exhibition's curator, Catherine Lampert, has chosen a wide-ranging collection of images belonging to the last three year's of Goldin's output. They constitute a synthesis of the changes her work has undergone over the last decade after going into detox - the series Elements, comprised mainly of interiors, skies and landscapes, and Relics and Saints, devoted to religious iconography, make up her most recent work.
Her personal photographic style, defined by the literal and metaphoric proximity to those photographed as well as the choice of private moments that form the subject of her images, define a way of giving focus to existence, whereby pleasure and pain alternate as part of a whole. Certain episodes in Goldin's life, such as the death of friends from AIDS, the births of the children of her closest friends, love stories, drugs, abuse and delirium appear in this exhibition.
The chosen title for the exhibition, The Devil's Playground, comes from the 1997 photograph taken in Death Valley, California, which warns of the potentially damaging effect of her images on the senses; the reason why Goldin's work has been censored on a number of occasions.
Via this exhibition, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía participates in PHotoEspaña 2002, the festival that awards the American artist a prize for the work throughout her career.
Centre Pompidou, Paris (October 11 - December 31, 2001); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (January 21 - April 1, 2002); Fundaçao Serralves, Porto (July 20 - October 6, 2002); Castello di Rivoli, Torino (October 23, 2002 – January 13, 2003); The Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (February 14 - April 13, 2003)