“I have always wanted to be a filmmaker. My slideshows are films made up of stills” – Nan Goldin.

Numéro Netherlands stepped into the mesmerizing world of Nan Goldin at Stedelijk Museum, where the groundbreaking retrospective, “This Will Not End Well,” unveils the multifaceted facets of Goldin’s artistic mastery. As a trailblazing filmmaker, this exhibition marks the first-ever comprehensive overview of her cinematic journey, displayed in a distinctive architectural village crafted by the visionary Hala Wardé.

Nan Goldin, Gina at Bruce’s dinner party, NYC, 1991. © Nan Goldin.

In this immersive exploration of fragility, childhood trauma, abuse, escape, love and loss, hate, purity, sensuality, and the euphoria of being high, Goldin’s lens transcends mere aesthetics. At the heart of this immersive experience lies “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency” (1981–2022), Nan Goldin’s magnum opus that chronicles the raw tapestry of life. From the intimate embrace of friendship to the wild abandon of nocturnal revelry, Goldin’s lens captures the dance between autonomy and dependency. “The Other Side” (1992–2021) immortalizes her trans friends, a poignant homage spanning four decades of intimate connections.

“Sisters, Saints and Sibyls” (2004–2022) bears witness to the trauma of families and the haunting specter of suicide, while “Fire Leap” (2010–2022) invites us into the enchanting world of childhood. “Sirens” (2019–2020) explores the ecstasy of drug-induced reverie, and “Memory Lost” (2019–2021) guides us through the claustrophobic labyrinth of drug withdrawal.

Born in 1953 in Washington D.C., Nan Goldin stands as one of the most high-profile artists of our time. Her profound exploration of the human experience has left an indelible mark on subsequent generations. “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency,” Goldin’s inaugural work, serves as a time capsule, documenting life in Provincetown, New York, Berlin, and London from the 1970s to the present day.

Nan Goldin, Self-portrait with eyes turned inward, Boston, 1989. © Nan Goldin.

Goldin’s artistic journey is rooted in the freedom of pre-AIDS times, portraying an alternative world outside of normative society. Her slideshows, initiated in the early 1980s, became a hallmark of her practice. These captivating presentations, evolving with each rendition, now form the core of her artistic legacy—moving images, voices, and archival materials seamlessly woven into her narrative fabric.

Nan Goldin, C performing as Madonna, Bangkok, 1992. © Nan Goldin.

Yet, Goldin’s artistic brilliance transcends aesthetics; it delves into societal issues. “Memory Lost” serves as a poignant evocation of the darkest realms of drug addiction, a theme that holds contemporary significance. In 2017, Goldin founded P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), an activism group that directly confronted the Sackler family, holding them accountable for their role in the opioid overdose crisis. As major donors to international museums, the Sacklers faced scrutiny from P.A.I.N., leading several institutions to expunge their name in response to the pressure.

“The Stedelijk Museum was the first European museum of modern art to collect photography and has a rich body of work by Nan Goldin in its collection. In the late 1980s, the Stedelijk invited her to present a slideshow performance of her photographs and mounted a solo of her work in 1997. Now, decades later, we are delighted that Nan Goldin is returning to the museum to fill the immense lower level gallery with a retrospective of moving images from her incredible oeuvre. In a world where reality is becoming increasingly indistinguishable from fantasy and illusion, Nan Goldin is renowned for her uncompromising authenticity that forever changed the nature of photography. Her images capture our most vulnerable moments of being human, reaching deep into our souls.” –  Rein Wolfs, director Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: