News — 16 Jun 2023

Sat. 7 Oct. 2023 till Sun. 28 Jan. 2024

I have always wanted to be a filmmaker. My slideshows are films made up of stills” Nan Goldin.

Nan Goldin, Self-portrait with eyes turned inward, Boston, 1989
Nan Goldin, Self-portrait with eyes turned inward, Boston, 1989. © Nan Goldin.

The retrospective This Will Not End Well is the first exhibition to present a comprehensive overview of Nan Goldin’s work as a filmmaker. The exhibition will be installed in six unique buildings designed by Hala Wardé, an architect who frequently works with Goldin. Each building is designed in response to the specific piece. Together they constitute a village.  

The exhibition is comprised of: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1981–2022), Nan Goldin’s magnum opus; The Other Side (1992– 2021), a historical portrait produced as an homage to her trans friends whom she photographed between 1972–2010; Sisters, Saints and Sibyls (2004–2022), a testament to the trauma of families and suicide; Fire Leap (2010–2022), a foray into the world of children; Sirens (2019–2020), a trip into drug ecstasy; and Memory Lost (2019–2021), a claustrophobic journey through drug withdrawal.  

Nan Goldin, Elephant mask, Boston, 1985 Nan Goldin, The Hug, New York City, 1980.
Nan Goldin, Elephant mask, Boston, 1985. © Nan Goldin. (Left). Nan Goldin, The Hug, New York City, 1980. © Nan Goldin. (Right).

Nan Goldin (born in Washington D.C. in 1953) is one of the most high-profile artists of our time. Her work’s exploration of the human experience is legendary and has profoundly influenced subsequent generations. Her first work, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, documents life in Provincetown, New York, Berlin and London beginning in the 1970s and 80s and up to the present day. Goldin photographed the world of her inner circle of creative, bohemian friends with raw tenderness. Her photographs give us snapshots of intimacy and coupling, the quotidian and wild parties, and the struggle between autonomy and dependency.  

Nan Goldin Brian and Nan in Kimono. Photo 1983
Nan Goldin, Brian and Nan in Kimono, 1983. © Nan Goldin.


Of the generation whose experiences were defined by the freedom of life before AIDS and an alternative world outside normative society, Goldin’s work also stands as a document of the times. Around 1980 Goldin began presenting her slideshows in various clubs and public venues in New York, at underground cinemas and film festivals in Europe, as well as Moderna Museet in Stockholm and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. She updated and reedited her slideshow every time and used multiple projectors, which she operated against the background of an eclectic soundtrack. Goldin’s ability to revisit these slideshows has since formed the core of her artistic practice. Over the past 40 years Goldin has produced a dozen different slideshows – from portraits of her friends to accounts of traumatic family events. Since then, she has added elements into her works such as moving images, voices and archival materials.

Nan Goldin, French Chris on the convertible, New York City, 1979
Nan Goldin, French Chris on the convertible, New York City, 1979. © Nan Goldin.


Nan Goldin has always grappled with social issues such as gender, mental health and AIDS, albeit through various approaches. Memory Lost, which also forms part of the current exhibition, is an evocation of the darkest sides of drug addiction. In 2017 Goldin founded P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), a direct action group that specifically targeted the Sackler family. The group holds the billionaire family accountable for igniting the epidemic opioid overdose crisis. The Sacklers are a major donor to many prominent international museums. However, many of these institutions have reacted to pressure from P.A.I.N. and removed all trace of the Sackler name from their premises.  

Nan Goldin, My horse Roma, Valley of the Queens, Luxor, Egypt, 2003
Nan Goldin, My horse Roma, Valley of the Queens, Luxor, Egypt, 2003. © Nan Goldin.

Rein Wolfs, director Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: “The Stedelijk Museum was the first European museum of modern art to collect photography and has a rich body of work by Nan Goldin in its collection. In the late 1980s, the Stedelijk invited her to present a slideshow performance of her photographs and mounted a solo of her work in 1997. Now, decades later, we are delighted that Nan Goldin is returning to the museum to fill the immense lower level gallery with a retrospective of moving images from her incredible oeuvre. In a world where reality is becoming increasingly indistinguishable from fantasy and illusion, Nan Goldin is renowned for her uncompromising authenticity that forever changed the nature of photography. Her images capture our most vulnerable moments of being human, reaching deep into our souls.” 


While the title of the exhibition This Will Not End Well may seem dark and foreboding, it is also full of ironic humour and warmth. The title is an affirmation of Goldin’s characteristically unshakeable joie de vivre

Nan Goldin, C performing as Madonna, Bangkok, 1992
Nan Goldin, C performing as Madonna, Bangkok, 1992. © Nan Goldin.


The Stedelijk receives This Will Not End Well first from organizer Moderna Museet in Stockholm as part of the international tour of museums, including the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin (October 2024–March 2025); Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan (October 2025 - February 2026); and Grand Palais, Paris (March - September 2026). 


A comprehensive catalogue is produced to accompany the exhibition, with 216 pages, 140 of which are illustrated, and texts by Vince Aletti, Thomas Beard, Guido Costa, Marvin Heiferman, Roni Horn, Patrick Radden Keefe, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Fredrik Liew, Andrea Lissoni, Gabor Maté, Cookie Mueller, Eileen Myles, Alfred Pacquement, Darryl Pinckney, Rene Ricard, Lucy Sante, Sarah Schulman, Anne Swärd, Hala Wardé, and David Wojnarowicz. The catalogue is published in English and is internationally distributed by Steidl Verlag. (ISBN 978-3-96999-058-2)

Note to editors

For more information and images, please contact the Press Office of the Stedelijk Museum,


This Will Not End Well is organized by Moderna Museet, Stockholm in collaboration with Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan and Réunion des musées nationaux – Grand Palais, Paris.

The exhibition is curated by Fredrik Liew, Chief Curator, Moderna Museet. The presentation at Stedelijk Museum is curated by Vincent van Velsen.

The exhibition This Will Not End Well is generously supported by the benefactors of the Stedelijk Museum Fonds, the VandenEnde Foundation and The Netherland-America Foundation.

Thanks to: