Galerie Yvon Lambert
108 Rue Vieille du Temple
From October 24th to the 23rd of December galerie Yvon Lambert is presenting
"The Golden Years", a mini retrospective of the photographs of
Nan Goldin. Beginning with "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency",
through the "Tokyo Spring Fever" up to the present year, the photographs
and slides presented here span the breath of Nan Goldin's oeuvre and thus
extend themselves to reflective synopsis. The works are so well know it
would be redundant to describe them here. In general the work as a whole
collides bawdiness and faith, sub-pop culture and high art, complexity and
ease; all at one and the same time. The tonal and syntactic surface of her
work is often spare and one might say conversational or informal, with its
logical trajectories seemingly resolved. And yet there are arguments within
her arguments to be discerned, a subtle questioning behind the axiomatic,
and a sense of loss at the near edge of her delectation. Goldin's work embodies
and deepens the multiple ramifications of a phrase easily (and aptly) applied
to describe it: deceptively easy. In referring to something as "deceptively
easy", it is implied that to be merely easy would be deficient and
that difficulty has inherent value, and that difficulty and its attendant
worth is heightened by seeming otherwise. It is one of the rare instances
in which deception is given the value of a deeper truth. Here the perceptually
misleading becomes the artifice of art. Illusion trades partners with truth
in the elaborate dance of representation. And such is the case in the photographs
of Nan Goldin. Not only are her photographs taken with cunning perceptual
ease, but she directly evokes the issues of deception, falsehood and illusion
- as well as their counterparts: authenticity, truth and the "real".
Her work questions the very possibility of separating a person from his
or her immediate presentation and of establishing a measure of genuineness
of that person.
There are of course great pleasures to be found in such deceptions and in
the very failure of photography to accurately imitate life. Where her photographs
can function as a filtering mask between the viewer and her world, they
are also the only remaining presence of her world of colorful kitsch. Goldin
addresses both the joyous possibilities of artifice and the burdens and
sorrows of their disconnection; of the rifts between world and image, and
the self and other.
In fact the feeling her body of work produces is itself a lie, as one must
be in motion, must move incessantly in outlandish circles to perpetuate
the illusion that one is the still center of an unstable fascinating world.
Thus her photographic humor, inclusiveness, and flirtations are double-edged.
She is intimate, yet not overly confiding, as her photographs play on an
undercurrent of common knowledge, cliché, and gay culture. Even sex
and death become cultural icons, the paraphernalia of daily life transformed
into potentially weighty images. A series of transformations, both tonal
and imagistic, plays itself out over the course of viewing the entire show,
building a web of images and illusions poised within a life which hovers
and changes position. For we do not stand still but pass in and out of view
and it is we ourselves that are moved past her static window of reference.
The question poised by "The Golden Years" is not then simply one
of being, but of the chosen plucked from amongst the would be's. Along with
a series of finer distinctions, contradictions and options, this question
of the scattering and collecting of possible beings and outcomes seems to
me to be the central core of her life's work. Intimacy, connection, even
being becomes a matter of momentary resemblance. These resemblances, and
hence ghostly presences are contingent on photography and its ability to
distinguish and liken. As noted, the frame of the photograph, its continuities
and omissions, is the source of both this failure and joy.
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