Nan Goldin’s Seminal Artwork Returns to New England

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The Portland Museum of Art is proud to host the first New England installation of Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency in more than 30 years. This seminal slideshow installation, considered one of the great works of art of the late 20th century, last exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 2016. The Portland Museum of Art exhibition marks the first time the Massachusetts-born artist has shown the work in New England since 1985, when it exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.

The Ballad of Sexual Dependency—named for a song in Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s 1928 The Threepenny Opera—comprises nearly 700 photographs taken by Goldin of herself and her friends throughout Provincetown, Boston, New York, Berlin, and Mexico. In creating this diaristic account of her life throughout the 1970s and ’80s, a kaleidoscopic narrative of romantic longing, loss, intimacy, and breakups emerges, featuring both heterosexual and same-sex couples in raw, vivid honesty. In her own words, the work is about “creating a history by recording a history.”

The photography of Nan Goldin offers audiences a kaleidoscopic narrative of the breadth of the human experience. Beginning in the 1970s and continuing to the present, Goldin captures her world as it unfolds before her, resulting in a diaristic account of her life and the people and places that define it. Treating her camera as an extension of her own body, “creating a history by recording a history,” Goldin shields her memories from revision or erasure by preserving them permanently in photographic form. The result is an unvarnished, intimate, and honest glimpse into a full and nuanced life that has played out in New York City, Boston, Provincetown, and abroad, against the backdrops of nightclubs and drag bars, hotel rooms and hospitals, and more.

Organized by the Portland Museum of Art, Nan Goldin explores American artist Nan Goldin’s (b. 1953) use of photography as a means of communication, self-reflection, and poetic expression. For more information, call (207) 775-6148 or visit