All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras, is screening at select venues this fall.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is an epic, emotional and interconnected story about internationally renowned artist and activist Nan Goldin told through her slideshows, intimate interviews, ground- breaking photography, and rare footage of her personal fight to hold the Sackler family accountable for the overdose crisis.
Directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras, the film interweaves Goldin’s past and present, the deeply personal and urgently political, from P.A.I.N.’s actions at renowned art institutions to Goldin’s photography of her friends and peers through her epic “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency” and her legendary 1989, NEA-censored AIDS exhibition, “Witness: Against Our Vanishing.”
Watch the trailer:
The story begins with P.A.I.N., a group Goldin founded to shame museums into rejecting Sackler money, destigmatize addiction and promote harm reduction. Inspired by Act Up, they orchestrated protests to expose the Sacklers and the crimes of their Purdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin.
At the core of the film are Goldin’s art works “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency”; “The Other Side”; “Sisters, Saints and Sibyls”; and “Memory Lost.” In these works, Goldin captures her friendships with beauty and raw tenderness. These friendships, and the legacy of her sister Barbara, anchor all of Goldin’s art.
For Goldin, it was imperative that the documentary also touch on the economic, social, and institutional parallels between the HIV/AIDS crisis and the current opioid crisis across the country and beyond. Social crises do not exist in siloes, and capturing the relationship between the often stigmatized communities in which Goldin was immersed and the personal stories behind her art was critical in understanding the full breadth of her work.
Goldin believes the political subversiveness of her art was always an inherent quality, given the community of friends and collaborators she has celebrated, and immortalized in her photographs and slideshows. As Goldin shares in the film, “The wrong things are kept private in society, and that destroys people.”
“All my work is about stigma, whether it’s suicide, mental illness, gender,” Goldin explained. “My earliest work was of drag queens in Boston in the early seventies, but I never realized my work was political ‘till about 1980. Maggie Smith, who ran the bar where I bartended for five years — she’s the one who made me see that the work was political.”
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is screening at select events with wider release in December. Upcoming screenings and tickets here.
About Nan Goldin
One of the most important and influential artists of her generation, Goldin has revolutionized the art of photography through her frank and deeply personal portraiture. Over the last 45 years Goldin has created some of the most indelible images of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since the 1970s her work has explored notions of gender and definitions of normality. By documenting her life and the lives of the friends who surround her, Goldin gives a voice and visibility to her communities. In the 1980s these images of her “extended family” became the subject of her seminal slideshow and first book The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. In 1985 her work was included in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s biennial. A decade later, in 1996, a major retrospective of her work opened at the Whitney, and toured to museums throughout Europe. In 2001, a second retrospective of Goldin’s work, Le Feu Follet, was held at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and toured internationally as The Devil’s Playground. A third retrospective This Will Not End Well, will open at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm this fall and travel internationally.
Among the artist’s other slideshows are Memory Lost, Sirens, Heartbeat, Fire Leap, All By Myself, and The Other Side. In 2004, as part of the Festival d’Automne, her work Sisters, Saints, and Sibyls was displayed in the Chapelle Saint-Louis de la Salpêtrière, Paris. A few years later, the Louvre specially commissioned a slideshow, exhibiting the resulting Scopophilia in 2010. Goldin has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Commandeur des Arts et Des Lettres from the French government in 2006, the Hasselblad Award in 2007, the Edward MacDowell medal in 2012, and the Lucie Award for Achievement in Portraiture in 2014. Her work has been published extensively. Selected publications include The Other Side (1993), A Double Life (with David Armstrong, 1994), Tokyo Love (with Nobuyoshi Araki, 1995), I’ll Be Your Mirror (1997), Ten Years After (1997), The Devil’s Playground (2003), The Beautiful Smile (2008), Eden and After (2014) and Diving for Pearls (2016).
In 2017 the artist founded the group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), which addresses the crisis of the ongoing Drug War by targeting the pharmaceutical companies that have profited off the addictions and deaths of over half a million Americans. PAIN advocates for harm reduction, decriminalization of drugs and life-saving treatments for drug users.