All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Director: Laura Poitras
Year Released: 2022
Art photographer Nan Goldin talks about her early years growing up with her beloved (but troubled) sister Barbara (who committed suicide), getting kicked out of multiple houses, becoming a dancer and then working in a brothel, taking photos of her outcast friends and finding great success doing so ... and then turning into an activist, protesting against the wealthy Sackler family, who own the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma which manufactured the opioid OxyContin (which has ruined countless families). Poitras glides gracefully between the past and present, carefully interweaving details of her subject's output (especially her hugely influential The Ballad of Sexual Dependency) and her current struggles, but it is a little ironic that someone who gained fame for (inadvertently) glamorizing addicts (and individuals who lived on the "fringe") would go on and fight a biotech that made drugs (because you can't sue the dealers in the alleyways, can you?). It's important to recognize that Goldin (as well as Cindy Sherman) pre-dated/anticipated social media by making their lives the primary "subject" of their work ... and also it's a good reminder that no matter how "strange" you think you are, there are others out there just like you looking for companionship.