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Nan Goldin is an American photographer closely associated with the style heroin chic. Born in Washington, DC, September 12 1953, Goldin is known for her autobiographical portrayal and exploration of themes such as sex, drugs and violence. Leaving home at the age of 13, Goldin found herself part of a ‘surrogate’ family, who she began photographing and documenting their intimate and illicit acts. She became involved in the lifestyle associated with drug abuse herself, and later suffered physical abuse at the hands of her then husband Brian, documenting her turmoil and struggle with drug dependency. She studied at the School of Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and first published her works 1973, a series of black and white photos that explored transgender and sexuality.

Goldin’s images carry the heroin chic style, however she condemns it’s use to sell clothes:

“The series was followed by others, “I’ll be your mirror” and “All by Myself” as well as more solo shows and widespread acclaim. Her work was criticized for making heroin use seem glamorous, but that seems to have mostly been as a reaction to her style being appropriated by magazines such as The Face and i-D. Goldin herself has said that the use of the heroin chic aesthetic to sell clothes was “reprehensible and evil”. Her aim was to portray her subjective vision and chronicle every aspect of her life, not supply false narratives or universal aesthetics suitable for marketing. If proof were needed, most of Goldin’s subjects were dead by the mid 1990’s from AIDS or drug abuse and overdoses. These collections of photographs were depicting their reality, not an invention.” –

Nan Goldin has been vocal about her work and explains:

“My work originally came from the snapshot aesthetic…. Snapshots are taken out of love and to remember people, places, and shared times. They’re about creating a history by recording a history.”
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