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Nan Goldin


October 6 - December 31, 2017

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Nan Goldin


October 6 - December 31, 2017

An unvarnished, intimate, and honest glimpse into a full and nuanced life. a deeply personal, yet resoundingly universal experience of art and humanity.

The Sisters, Boston, 1978

The Sisters, Boston, 1978

The photography of Nan Goldin offers audiences a kaleidoscopic narrative of the breadth of the human experience. Beginning in the 1970s and continuing to the present, Goldin captures her world as it unfolds before her, resulting in a diaristic account of her life and the people and places that define it. Treating her camera as an extension of her own body, “creating a history by recording a history,” Goldin shields her memories from revision or erasure by preserving them permanently in photographic form. The result is an unvarnished, intimate, and honest glimpse into a full and nuanced life that has played out in New York City, Boston, Provincetown, and abroad, against the backdrops of nightclubs and drag bars, hotel rooms and hospitals, and more. By experiencing Goldin’s work, we bear witness to her reality and that of the people who inhabited her evolving surroundings, with whom she formed a kind of alternate family—a chosen family. The intimacy of the photographs not only provides a window into the lives that surrounded Goldin, but validates the many twists, turns, and paths that occur in all of our lives, resulting in a deeply personal, yet resoundingly universal experience of art and humanity.

Organized by the Portland Museum of Art, Nan Goldin explores American artist Nan Goldin’s (b. 1953) use of photography as a means of communication, self-reflection, and poetic expression.

Nan Goldin traces the notions of “family” and “history” as they intertwine in Goldin’s singular body of work. After leaving her parents’ suburban home at the age of 13, Goldin began to take pictures of the people in her life with unvarnished candor. Throughout the artist’s visual autobiography, in which her subjects move with blithe abandon, intimacy is ubiquitous. In the form of ordinary gestures—the cast of a gaze or the curve of a hand—Goldin reveals the presence of love, rapture, pain, and loss in her own encounters, as well as in those of her friends and lovers. Collectively, these photographs impart an image of kinship that helps shape our modern understanding of both the construction and documentation of new models of family.

The exhibition comprises two of the artist’s seminal multimedia installations, a series of grids in which Goldin has grouped—and in many cases reprinted—her photographs into narrative themes, several works from her most recent project, and nearly two dozen photographs that span her prolific career.


Opportunities for Press

Looking for a compelling narrative? Here are a few angles we find particularly interesting.

PIONEERING LGBTQIA REPRESENTATION
Goldin captured her friends and chosen family directly and honestly. These images helped shape a new national discourse around issues of sexuality and gender, and her work captures a definitive moment in the LGBTQIA movement. Goldin's work is a touchstone for entire generations in the LGBTQIA community, opening the door for new possibilities and futures, and increasing opportunities for solidarity.

PERSONAL AGENCY
Some of Goldin's work touches on uncomfortable themes of drug use and addiction, domestic violence, depression and suicide, and the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 80's and 90's. Yet her work also reminds us that lives unfold like chapters in a book, and no one period of time defines a life. Through Goldin's life and the documentation of the people in it, we see the power of the individual to shape their own narrative, and gain an appreciation for the agency we all have to shape our lives.

ISSUES OF REPRESENTATION
Given today's political climate and national conversations around representation, the story of Nan Goldin resonates louder than ever. Nan photographed people in her life—lovers, friends, and family—who were largely considered living in the margins of society. Through her lens, she highlights the complexity of life and the twists and turns it takes. Her work reminds us that every story is important and worthy of documentation, to share with the world, but most importantly for the people in her photographs.

GROUNDBREAKING WORK RETURNS TO NEW ENGLAND
Several of Goldin's seminal works are included in the PMA's exhibition, including The Ballad Of Sexual Dependency. This slideshow installation is a deeply personal narrative, once Goldin acknowledges as, "...a diary I let people read. [It is] my form of control over my life. It allows me to obsessively record every detail. It enables me to remember.” This is the first time it has been on view in New England in over 30 years, and is following a widely praised run at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

DOCUMENTATION OF BOSTON'S LGBTQIA HISTORY
Goldin, a native of suburban Massachusetts, left home as a teenager in the 1960s. She eventually found her way to Boston, where she became a fixture at The Other Side, the legendary gay bar (closed in 1976) that also hosted a drag cabaret. Goldin's photographs of her friends there, whether in the throes of performance—what Goldin refered to as "gender euphoria"—or backstage quietude were positive images of LGBTQIA life during an era when such images were rare. They are collected in the installation The Other Side, on view in this exhibition.

IDEAS OF THE "CHOSEN FAMILY"
By experiencing Goldin’s work, we bear witness to her reality and that of the people who inhabited her evolving surroundings, with whom she formed a kind of alternate family—a chosen family. The intimacy of the photographs not only provides a window into the lives that surrounded Goldin, but validates the many twists, turns, and paths that occur in all of our lives, resulting in a deeply personal, yet resoundingly universal experience of art and humanity.

 

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Model Citizens


September 10, 2017 - January 28, 2018

Model Citizens


September 10, 2017 - January 28, 2018

Model Citizens: Art and Identity in the United States, 1770-1830 presents works from the PMA's permanent collection by the most celebrated artists of the early United States alongside portrait miniatures, samples, and silhouettes.

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This wide range of visual culture provides a glimpse into how late 18th and early 19th-century Americans elected to represent themselves in private and public spheres as husbands, wives, children, and citizens. Arranged in three sections, the exhibition uses the life cycle as an organizing principle to introduce viewers to the many modes of self-representation popular in the era, from finely painted portraits by Gilbert Stuart and Thomas Badger to modestly-scaled cut silhouettes and mourning embroideries. The first section showcases paintings of children alongside embroidered samplers produced by the young women of the Stone family at Portland's Miss Martins' School. This portion provides a glimpse of how families understood lineage as well as how painters helped visualize changing ideas about the nature of childhood. The samplers show how young, upper-class women expressed their creativity and accomplishment. The second section features works that portray grown men and women, often commemorating major life events such as marriage. In addition to paired portraits and individual works by renown painters such as Stuart and John Singleton Copley, this section will also feature silhouettes and miniatures—small-scale, modestly priced works that allowed sitters to circulate likenesses among family and friends. The final section presents examples of men and women at the end of life such as the PMA's newly acquired portrait of Judge Stephen Jones, who was in his eighties when he sat for Gilbert Stuart. This section will also include mourning embroideries to underscore how early Americans used painting and needle work to commemorate loved ones after death. 


Opportunities for Press

Looking for a compelling narrative? Here are a few angles we find particularly interesting.

highlighting the pma collection

Model Citizens showcases the depth of the PMA's American collection, and is a powerful grouping of portraits of national figures, notable figures in Maine's history, and others.

changing modes of representation

One of the most interesting aspects of Model Citizens is its attention to the burgeoning portrayal of women and girls in this period. As family portraits became more affordable, more people were able to represent themselves and document their lives and values through portraiture. Additionally, paired with the themes of the PMA's exhibition Nan Goldin, this exhibition sheds light on another important moment when people were gaining visibility in new and powerful ways.

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Child's Play


July 28 - December 17, 2017

Child's Play


July 28 - December 17, 2017

the meaning and experience of youth is hardly fixed

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Child's Play: Representations of Adolescence takes a close look at childhood and the unsteady terrain of adolescence through a selection of 20th-century photographs. This exhibition reveals artists' awareness that the early years of life are marked by transition and transformation, and the meaning and experience of youth is hardly fixed. 

In the early decades of the 20th century, documentary photographers including Aaron Siskind and Lewis Hine used the faces of children to bring attention to a range of social issues. In his series Harlem Document (1936-40), Siskind photographed life in Harlem during the Great Depression. Child's Play will feature a suite of these artworks, which depict the neighborhood's youngest inhabitants, their lives, and interactions with friends and family. In one photograph, a young girl perched on a milk jug eats with her mother; laundry hangs from the rafters of their apartment. In Wishing Tree, Harlem (1937) a group of young boys dressed in dapper coats congregate around the stump of Harlem's famed elm, a symbol of hope and good luck. 

Other artists have focused on the profound physical, phsychological, and emotional changes that occur during adolescence. Jocelyn Lee, over the span of 16 years, photographed her young neighbor, Kara. Pictured here, the series charts Kara's transition from a self-possessed girl into a young woman and concludes with Kara as an adult and a mother.

Also present in Child's Play is the unbridled delight and joy of youth. In Olive Pierce's Boys in a Tree, North Cambridge, Mass (1974) a group of agile boys climb a tree, laughing and smiling as they hang from branches. With both the opportunity to remember the carefree days of summer as well as reflect on the challenges and uncertainty of adolescence, Child's Play offers an experience for all ages.


Opportunities for Press

Looking for a compelling narrative? Here are a few angles we find particularly interesting.

highlighting the pma collection

Child's Play showcases the depth of the PMA's contemporary collection, and it's dedication to photography.

unvarnished representation of youth 

Representations of adolescence evoke many phases and moments including self-discovery, growth, nostalgia, playfulness, and sexual awakening. This exhibition explores the complexities of youth from multiple perspectives. Seen together with Model Citizens and Nan Goldin, Child's Play provides another vantage point to understand and appreciate the complexity of life.