Nan Goldin: Scopophilia at Gagosian Rome

Gagosian Rome is pleased to present Nan Goldin’s Scopophilia (21 March – 24 May 2014). This is the renowned photographer’s first major exhibition in Rome.

The Greek term scopophilia literally means “love of looking,” but also refers to the erotic pleasure derived from gazing at images of the body. Nan Goldin’s Scopophilia is both a slide-show and an ongoing photographic series, begun in 2010 when she was given private access to the Louvre Museum every Tuesday. During these privileged sojourns, she wandered and photographed freely throughout the museum’s renowned collections of painting and sculpture.

Goldin’s errant experiences at the Louvre confirmed that many of her artistic obsessions–sex, violence, rapture, despair and the mutability of gender–stem from deep imaginative currents in Western art history, myth, and religious iconography that have potent sources, from the transformative myth of Pygmalion to the second-century marble, The Sleeping Hermaphrodite. Many of Goldin’s own photographs that she has paired with Louvre imagery have never been exhibited before; some were unearthed from her archives by her assistant and others she resurrected herself. The result is a collective portrait about love and desire, propelled by “all of the pleasure circuits deeply fulfilled by looking.”

From the thousands of photographs that Goldin took of paintings and sculptures in the Louvre collections, she assembled a 25-minute operatic slideshow, in which her highly subjective and enlivening impressions of historical artworks are paired with her own images dating as far back as the late 1970s. The result is a resonant dialogue between human histories past and present. Scopophilia the slideshow had its premiere at the Louvre in 2010.

Over a melancholy classical soundtrack, composed by Alain Mahé for piano, cello and voice, Goldin quietly muses on mythological figures such as Narcissus, Tiresias, and Cupid and Psyche. All find their equivalents in her own portraits of friends and extended family, in turn tender, savage, and eroticized. At Gagosian Rome, the slideshow will run continuously during opening hours for the duration of the exhibition.

Alongside the slideshow are related photographs in which Goldin has combined her own photographs with her images of historical artworks as seamless thematic grids. Several of these compositions were made for the Rome exhibition and are being seen for the first time. These photographic panels represent a new direction for Goldin whereby her recent embrace of the computer has given her new access to her own archive, and the ability to trawl an ever-expanding image-world. With this technology, she is exploring her own work afresh, and in relation to History, to create unexpected and enchanting insights into images and themes across time and culture.

Nan Goldin was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1953. Her work has been the subject of two major touring retrospectives, “I’ll be Your Mirror,” Whitney Museum of American Art (1996, traveled to Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Kunsthalle Wien; and National Museum, Prague) and “Le Feu Follet,” Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (traveled to Whitechapel Gallery, London; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Fundação de Serralves, Porto, Portugal; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; and Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw). Scopophilia was part of Patrice Chéreau’s special program at the Louvre in 2011; and was exhibited at Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro (2012). Goldin was awarded the Legion d’honneur in 2006 with the rank of Commandeur and received the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in 2007. In 2012 The MacDowell Colony awarded Goldin the Edward MacDowell Medal. Goldin lives and works in New York, Berlin, and Paris.