Critics’ Picks

Nan Goldin, Graveyard at Rathmullen, Ireland, 2002, ink-jet print mounted on Dibond, 24 x 36".


Nan Goldin

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)
Royal Hospital Military Road Kilmainham
June 16–October 15

For Nan Goldin’s first solo exhibition in Ireland, “Weekend Plans,” curated by Rachel Thomas, the artist’s iconic slideshow, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1985, inevitably sets the tone. It’s impossible to avoid the impact of her most famous work, a record of Goldin’s harrowing life from 1970 to 1985, featuring an assortment of family, friends, and lovers. The slideshow is intimate, built around a narrative arc and accompanied by an upbeat sound track, from Maria Callas to the Velvet Underground. This closeness is palpable and heightened by the intensity of the artist’s subjects: sex, drug abuse, parties, booze, domestic violence, and AIDS sufferers. We are witnesses to a raw reality, called into its crude, dark glamour––we are mesmerized. Goldin’s glance is receptive and nonjudgmental, and it guides us to accept all moments, no matter how harsh, by way of a tenderness that melts agony into compassion.

The show also presents sixteen rarely exhibited drawings and a group of never-before-seen photographs taken in Ireland in 1979 and 2002. Some of the photographs are portraits of the Irish filmmaker Vivienne Dick (whose show “93% STARDUST” is also on view at the museum), documenting the artists’ longtime friendship—both were key figures in New York’s No Wave scene of the late 1970s. The portraits of Dick and her family members, as well as the rural Irish landscape under cloudy skies, are shot with the same kind of emotional charge that’s been running through Goldin’s work for the past forty years. Her singular view establishes a poignant connection to people and nature. The artist is always aware of the fleeting quality of each encounter. And her gaze, though unflinching, is always suffused by a ferocious love.