UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Slide show, monograph, cibachrome : Nan Goldin's colour photographs in three forms Matwichuk, Laura


During the 1970s a new generation of artists began to use photography in a personal and experimental manner not seen prior to this decade. This thesis contends that Nan Goldin's The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1979-86) is first among the artworks to characterize the subcultural fantasy and disenchantment of that generation. By employing autobiographic subject matter and diaristic means, The Ballad is an affront to straight black and white practices legitimized as art in previous decades. My analysis elucidates the historical, economic and artistic conditions which activate The Ballad and reveal its integral role in defining photographic practices of this and subsequent periods. In the first chapter, critical texts on photography which parallel the production of The Ballad of Sexual Dependency are examined, as well as those that draw out historical comparisons to Berlin during the Weimar Republic. Also under consideration is the impact of economic and geographic factors on Goldin's practice in relation to the work of other American photographers of the 1970s. In the second chapter, it is argued that The Ballad's integral positioning within the history of colour photography is contingent upon its three forms: slide show, monograph and Cibachrome. Finally, it is considered that recent inclinations to look to Goldin's photographs for ethnographic or historical evidence reveals the need to further examine The Ballad's 'look,' which has been co-opted as a subcultural aesthetic, while the subculture itself has become virtually obsolete.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International