Arts Not Only Nan Goldin, But Sisters, Saints & Sibyls Coming to EMP Sept 21
When Nan Goldin’s 2004 work Sisters, Saints & Sibyls made its New York debut this spring at Matthew Marks Gallery, critics welcomed it for three reasons. First, it provided insight into Goldin’s tortured life. (For all her confessional photographs, the source of her pain, and especially this source of pain, hadn’t been much plumbed.) Second, they saw in this three-screen narrative slideshow with Goldin’s voiceover a resurgence of sorts, the artist’s first new, strong work since her 1980s Ballad of Sexual Dependency.
And third, Sisters, Saints & Sibyls tells the story of Goldin’s sister’s suicide exactly one month before her 19th birthday (when Goldin was 14), which is really quite a story. Goldin, now 53, dedicated the piece to “all our sisters who have committed suicide or who have been institutionalized for their rebellion.” Barbara, Goldin’s sister, was sent to an asylum by her parents at age 14 for having kissed boys at the movies and for having a black boyfriend. After being institutionalized repeatedly, one day in 1965, she got a day pass to leave the asylum, and laid down on a set of train tracks, where she was beheaded by a locomotive.
According to Christian-Philippe Quilici, EMP’s spokesman, the piece will appear in Sky Church the night of Goldin’s talk. The talk, which is free, will surely sell out. EMP starts taking reservations a week before the event.
A one-night-only appearance in a rock venue is a strange West Coast debut for a work of this stature. No other Seattle museums have enough interest or clout to keep it here a little longer and give it a proper welcome?
Here is an arresting image from the Matthew Marks show, titled My Mother Laying on Her Bed, Salem, MA (2005). (Just for the record, it’s not part of Sisters, Saints & Sibyls.)