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Nan Goldin in 2013. Photo: UN Women/Flickr.
Nan Goldin in 2013. Photo: UN Women/Flickr.

Nan Goldin Awarded 2022 Käthe Kollwitz Prize

Nan Goldin has been named the recipient of the 2022 Käthe Kollwitz Prize. The prestigious award, presented by the Berlin Academy of Arts, recognizes contemporary photographers who have made important contributions in their field. The photographer, filmmaker, and activist is being lauded for her intimate, pathbreaking work focused on the LQBTQ+ community. She will receive the prize, which is accompanied by an E12,000 ($12,800) award, in early 2023; an attendant exhibition of her work will run from January to March of that year.

In an oeuvre spanning more than four decades, Goldin has examined issues of themes of gender, domesticity, and sexuality, typically through works comprising numerous photographs or slides, often with an audio component. The artist often lives with or is closely engaged with her subjects. Among her works cited by the jurors as crucial are The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1986, a sound-accompanied slideshow nominally based on a Kurt Weill song from Bertolt Brecht’s 1928 Threepenny Opera. A snapshot of gay culture in New York in the post-Stonewall era, the work pays tribute to the numerous friends, lovers, and acquaintances Goldin lost to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s. “The immediacy in her photographs is owing to her physical and emotional affiliation and lack of distance from a living environment that was closed off to many people and was opened up by her as an artist,” noted the judges in a collective statement.

Goldin is the founder of P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), which she established after becoming addicted to OxyContin, which was prescribed to her following an injury. Her efforts with this group have had a significant impact in bringing to light and halting the practice of “artwashing,” particularly as practiced by members of the Sackler family connected with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.

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