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All the Beauty and the Bloodshed: A New Nan Goldin Documentary

“Photography is like a flash of euphoria. And it gave me a voice”

No one does it quite like Nan Goldin. Deeply personal and boundary-demolishing photographs always leave us with chills crawling down our spines whenever we are let into her world. She’s captured and found beauty in everything society deemed “ugly” – from  her black eye after a fight with her lover to intoxication, sex and loss among queer communities in all of their glory and gore. Redefining the meaning of “photogenic” and channelling face-slapping truthfulness in all her works, Goldin single-handedly paved a way into what we know as photography today.

Goldin’s work is a far cry from a pity party for the generation turmoiled by the AIDS epidemic and drugs, but rather an intimate recollection of love, friendship, and their highs and lows within that time. ‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed’ , directed by the Oscar-winning documentarian Laura Poitras, guides us through that turbulent journey with a matching emotional intensity. The film also chronicles the artist’s painstaking fight for taking the Sackler family down – the pharmaceutical dynasty behind OxyContin, a strong painkiller largely responsible for the eruption of the opioid epidemic in the 80s. Their company profited off addiction ravaging global youths and sold it back to the art world – international art powerhouses such as MoMA, Louvre and Guggenheim all proudly had “Sackler” name glistening under their exhibition lights as they accepted ever-pouring donations.

Including rare interviews, slideshows and footage from her and her organisation’s P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) protests, the two hours of tragedy and triumph give a comprehensive look into Goldin’s life, what mattered to her then and what still matters today. Set to be released later next month, ‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed’ is definitely at the top of our watchlist, as we are in dire need of a good documentary to simultaneously leave us with a pit in our stomachs and a warm feeling of hope.


Image taken from the official trailer

Words by Evita Shrestha