Nan Golding had a difficult childhood. Besides all the arguments between her parents and siblings, her sister Barbara, who was her example and to whom she looked up to, was placed in a mental institution and committed suicide at the age of 19. Nan was only 11 years old. At the age of 13, Nan was kicked out of school and left home to live in a drag community, which she started photographed. From there her journey as a photographer started. ‘I don’t ever want to lose the real memory of anyone again’.
In a snapshot style Nan recorded her life and that of her friends. She believed in the ‘narrative of the self, the private and public exhibition we call being’. Her images show much of her community and give an intense insight in the dynamics between the people, their emotions and struggles. Nan called the drag community she lived in ‘her chosen family’. Her images reflect a life whose intimacy comes as close as a family life may be, showing a longing for what she had missed in her own childhood.
As personal and up and close Goldin’s work may be, the overall effect of her work gives you a more general, almost anthropological view on the communities she photographed and even her own life. As Arbus put it: ‘The more specific you are, the more general it will be’. It’s the details that accentuate the overall effect, showing that you can bring across a bigger story than just a snapshot of your own daily life.