All the Beauty and the Bloodshed – HBO Max

Trigger warning: graphic images depicting physical abuse.

I thoroughly enjoyed this HBO Max documentary about renowned photographer Nan Goldin. The documentary goes into details of Nan’s life growing up in suburbia, how she got into photography, living through the AIDS epidemic, and her most recent activism in removing the opioid producing Sackler family name from major art museums throughout the world. After hearing her story, I am convinced that Nan has lived life enough for us all ten times over.

She grew up in an oppressive home where her parents denied her and her siblings authentic existence, leading her older sister to commit suicide as a teenager.

Nan left home to explore life on her own with her friends in the 1970s drag scene. She embraced her fluid sexuality and her photography revolved around admiration for her LGBTQ+ friends.

Best friends going out, Boston, 1973

During the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic hit and she experienced mass death within her group of friends. Her photography and activism reflected combating the McCarthyism aimed at the gay community in the lack of funding and resources towards creating a cure for AIDS.

Gotscho, Kissing Gilles, Paris, 1993

Her next major work of art highlighted domestic abuse and showed photos of her post-battery by her ex-partner.

Nan, One Month After Being Battered, 1984

In 2017, Nan announced that she developed an opioid addiction after being prescribed OxyContin from a wrist surgery. After getting clean through rehabilitation, she set up the PAIN (Prevention, Addiction, Intervention, Now) organization, which is a major theme in the documentary.

Let me know what you think about the documentary if you decide to watch 🙂

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