Book

Nan Goldin on Art and Activism

Dec 16, 2020

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Join Goldin for a conversation about the activist strategies that she's employed inside and outside of her studio.


In January 2018, photographer Nan Goldin published a series of photographs and an essay in Artforum that revealed her addiction to OxyContin and her struggle to get clean. The photos and essay called for the art world to hold to account the Sackler family, who own Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, and who are also well-known cultural philanthropists. In addition to disclosing her addiction, Goldin founded the activist group P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) and has led the group in staging "die-in" protests at museums that have accepted major gifts from the Sacklers in an effort to call attention to the Sackler's role in the opioid epidemic and the museums' complicity in it by extension.


 One of the most important and influential artists of her generation, Goldin has revolutionized the art of photography through her frank and deeply personal portraiture. Over the last 45 years Goldin has created some of the most indelible images of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since the late 1970s her work has explored notions of gender and definitions of normality. By documenting her life and the lives of the friends who surround her, Goldin gives a voice and visibility to her communities. In 2017 Goldin formed the activist group P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) which stages protests aimed at US pharmaceutical drug companies.