Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency to open at the Art Gallery of Ballarat

AAR AGB Nan Goldin Mark tattooing Mark Boston 1978On loan from the National Gallery of Australian (NGA), the Art Gallery of Ballarat presents Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. Opening on Saturday 2 March, the exhibition will make its Victorian debut in Ballarat as part of PHOTO 2024 – a statewide international photo festival.

Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is a highly anticipated exhibition. Goldin is an American artist whose work explores subcultures, moments of intimacy, the impacts of the HIV/AIDS and opioid epidemics on her communities, and photography as a tool for social activism.

Goldin’s work is always born out of her own experience, and her deeply personal and candid portraiture acts as a visual autobiography.

Goldin was born in Washington DC in 1953, and in high school was introduced to photography, which she then studied at art school in Boston. Goldin moved to New York City in 1978, where she began to photograph the post-punk new-wave scene, along with the city’s vibrant, post-Stonewall queer communities.

The Ballad of Sexual Dependency began life as a slide show and was published as a now-iconic book in 1986 that established Goldin as a major contemporary artist.

A long-standing social activist, Goldin is the subject of the recent, award-winning documentary film, All the beauty and the bloodshed, which considers the relationship between her photographic practice and her activism.

“For me it is not a detachment to take a picture. It’s a way of touching somebody – it’s a caress, I think that you can actually give people access to their own soul,” said Goldin.

Goldin refers to The Ballad as her ‘public diary’, stating that her photographs ‘come out of relationships, not observation’. The series stands as both a poignant tribute to the significant losses experienced by Goldin and her community.

The work’s overriding themes, she has stated, are those of love and empathy and the tension between autonomy and interdependence in relationships – relationships in which all genders struggle to find a common language.

Recently, Nan Goldin took the number one spot on the ArtReview Power 100 list, an internationally recognised ranking of artists who use their work and platforms to intervene in the pressing social and political issues of the current moment.

Gallery Director Louise Tegart said that Goldin is an iconic figure in contemporary culture: “Goldin has been incredibly influential in contemporary culture, as both an artist and an activist,” she said.

“In this important series, Goldin documented her life and that of her circle of friends to create images that are powerful, poignant and that reveal a cultural milieu that was on the edge and vulnerable.”

“This revelatory body of work influenced a generation. We are very excited to present it in Ballarat, together with some exciting events inspired by the exhibition,” said Tegart.

The Ballad of Sexual Dependency has been curated by Anne O’Hehir, Curator of Photography at the NGA, who will give a talk about Nan Goldin and the exhibition on Saturday 2 March 2024 (2.00pm).

Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency
Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat
Exhibition: 2 March – 2 June 2024
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Nan Goldin, Mark tattooing Mark, Boston, 1978. Dye destruction photograph on paper. National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra, purchased in celebration of the National Gallery of Australia’s 40th anniversary, 2022. Courtesy the artist.