All the beauty and bloodshed (2022 | USA | 117 mins | Laura Poitras)
Although Laura Poitras All the beauty and bloodshed brings decades of Nan Goldin’s photography to the big screen, neither the film nor its subject are stuck in the past.
Goldin’s pioneering slideshows, which captured the lived experiences of marginalized people in his early 1970s social milieu with vibrant candor, provide a loose structure for the film. Having left home in her early teens following her sister’s suicide, Nan found her voice on camera and forged her identity among the city’s queer communities. If the film had done nothing more than bring this slice of art history to a new audience, it would have been a hit. Goldin burst into an art world where photography was largely made up of vertical black-and-white images, at a time when not everyone had the machinery of self-imagery in their pockets. built and self-promotion. From the current vantage point of an internet saturated with carefully curated identity as the currency of the realm, his depiction of youth culture – particularly the interrogation of so-called sexual depravity – filmed and curated in collaboration with his subjects was in itself a revolutionary angle.
Alongside these photographs and retrospectives, Poitras interweaves the sound of over a year of deep conversations with Goldin. She reflects on the difference between the stories we tell and the tactile nature of memory, how one is clean and the other has lasting smells and effects. There are candid discussions of mental health and family inadequacy, artistic awakenings, friendships and loves that sustained his life. Again, if that had been the whole movie, that would have been enough.
But stasis or pure reflection is not the way Poitras or Goldin ever worked. The film takes off cementing the interconnections between Goldin’s life, his drive to defend artistic freedom during the AIDS crisis, the lessons of rude change as part of the ACT-UP movement in the face of indifference to the dead. mass as the foundation of his current activism amid the deadly opioid epidemic. Drawing on her personal experience of addiction to prescription painkillers after surgery, she and her organization PAIN have taken a stand against the “artwashing” the Sackler family has done by donating to major art institutions for mitigate their complicity in creating the opioid crisis through Purdue Pharma’s misleading marketing of its blockbuster drug OxyContin. Directing “die-ins” performances with pill bottles, prescription pads and banners at places like the Met, Guggenheim and LouvreGoldin leverages her credibility in the art world (she’s part from everyone’s permanent collection) to protest the continued use of this family’s name in high society despite the hundreds of thousands of addiction-related deaths resulting from their products.
The masterful connection between today’s activism spanning protest, lawsuits, legislation and devastating testimony with the artist’s own complicated biography creates a stunning continuum of creativity, personal revelation and vital social change. . One of the most vibrant documentaries of the season and a second Oscar for Poitras (who has just won the Golden Lion of Venice).