Nan Goldin | The Ballad of Sexual Dependency

NANCY GOLDIN AND WILLIAM LEAVITT | ROOM TO LIVE AT MOCA

Nancy was born in Washington in 1953 and she is an American photographer that initiated the “Intimate” photography genre.
Coming from a middle class Jewish family with liberal and progressive ideas, her life was highly influenced by the suicide of her sister aged 18. The photographic media was for her a way to escape the tragedy, and she started to document her life, especially the gay and lesbian communities which she was part. After graduating in ’78, she started documenting the post-punk scene and creating her first famous work called “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency”. This work portrays especially her friends during sexual acts, drug abuses and the nightlife she was spending in clubs and streets. Most of the people portrayed were doomed to die of AIDS in the following years. The strongest thing about all of her works is that it’s a sort of a diary of her life experiences, questioning about the themes of love, gender, domesticity and sexuality, in which the viewer is draught to the personal point of view on Nan, and making him being part of her feelings, her family. Charlotte Scotton (2009, p. 141) writes that ‘Goldin’s photographs of those around her counterbalance celebration with loss. Her intense record of the impact of HIV and AIDS-related illness, drug addiction and rehabilitation of her and her friends’ lives offered art audiences a profound engagement with those social issues, spelt out in personal terms’.

Nancy Goldin | “Nan and Brian in Bed” (1983)

William Leavitt (born 1941) is a conceptual artist known for paintings, photographs, installations, and performance works that examine “the vernacular culture of L.A. through the filter of the entertainment industry, drawing on ‘stock environments’ and designs of films as well as the literature of the place.” A critical figure in the West Coast conceptual art movement of the late 60s, Leavitt has himself has managed to maintain a low profile. “Over the last 40 years, William Leavitt has made a name for himself as an influential artist while staying so far out of fame’s spotlight that his hard-to-categorize works have been all but invisible to the public,” wrote the LA Times.
Leavitt received a BFA from University of Colorado, Boulder and a MFA from Claremont Graduate School. Since moving to Los Angeles in 1965 his work evolved, increasingly referencing themes endemic to the city such as the line between reality and fantasy and the nature of illusion.
Leavitt was given a significant survey exhibition by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2011, titled Theater Objects. Despite Leavitt’s long history of of exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, and abroad, the Theater Objects retrospective was described as “a revelation” by art critic Christopher Knight.

William Leavitt | Spectral Analysis, 1977/2010. Set for performance, courtesy of the artist. Photo by Brian Forrest.

See their current exhibitions at MOCA, Museum of Contemporary Art here.
MOCA museum guide here.