Nan Goldin is a photographer less interested in capturing the decisive moment than gathering snapshots of those people closest to her over a prolonged period of time. Her images of friends and acquaintances since the 1980s, famously including drag queens, club kids and drug addicts, have imbedded in them a sense of time and development of her relationship with her subjects, as well as the way she collates images to create a portrait rather than summing it all up in one shot.
This sense of intimacy and wanting to memorize people through photographing them is key to Goldin’s snapshot aesthetic, which she now brings to imagery of children in Fireleap. One of the notable things about Goldin’s work is the lack of contrived pose, therefore the lack of inhibition in her subjects and the directness with which they address the camera (or rather Goldin behind the lens). In this collection of pictures of children, from pregnant belly to young person, Goldin enacts her collaboration with her friend/subjects to create a montage reflecting the emotions wrapped up in being a child.
Goldin’s preferred method of displaying her work is as a slideshow, which sits somewhere between a conventional printed photograph and film. With this format she controls the order in which we see the images, creating a narrative with them, and also the amount of time we spend on each one. As a projection they are of course larger, only seen singularly and composed of light rather than ink on paper. Goldin has also added a soundtrack of children singing obscure songs, heightening the cinematic feel of the piece and its sense of intimacy and immediacy.
Accompanying the slideshow is a room of printed photographs in which Goldin has forayed into landscapes and also collected together some double-exposed images into grid-like collections. Of course these are all superbly produced, but if it’s true Goldin you’re after in this compact exhibition, then Fireleap is where you’ll find her strongest work.
-- Laura Bushell
All images courtesy of Nan Goldin and Sprovieri Gallery, London.