Madrid (EFE).- A few days before the Oscars, where he will compete as a candidate for best documentary, this Friday “Beauty and Pain” arrives in Spanish cinemas, a portrait of the photographer and benchmark of the New York counterculture Nan Goldin and of his fight in defense of the victims of opioids in the United States.
Directed by Laura Poitras, who won an Oscar for another documentary about Edward Snowden, “Citizen Four” (2014), “Beauty and Pain” parallels the artistic career of Goldin, one of the most important living photographers in the US. USA and its activism against the Sackler dynasty because of the largest opioid epidemic in the history of their country, which has left more than half a million deaths from overdoses.
This subject has also been extensively discussed by the journalist Patrick Radden Keefe -who participates in the documentary- in the book “The empire of pain” (2021) and has jumped to fiction in the series, winner of an Emmy, “Dopesick” ( 2021), starring Michael Keaton.
Philanthropists whose last name shone in the world’s most important museums, from the Metropolitan Museum to the Guggenheim in New York and from the Louvre in Paris to the British Museum in London, the prestige of the Sacklers has crumbled in recent years due to the devastating effects of its flagship product, OxyContin, a highly addictive chronic pain drug.
Just a year ago, his company, Purdue Pharma, reached an agreement with several claimant states to pay 6,000 million dollars to the victims and apologize to them, while avoiding any type of criminal responsibility.
That same month, March 2022, the highest historical number of deaths due to an overdose of Oxycontin was reached, 109,000, according to Poitras in the documentary, winner of the Golden Lion at the last Venice Festival, the most important award and that only in twice it has fallen on a non-fiction film.
The judicial agreement was the result of the appeal of almost a dozen states to a previous agreement associated with the bankruptcy in which the pharmaceutical company had declared after having diverted billions of its coffers over a decade.
Goldin’s work is recognized for having intimately portrayed many of the protagonists of the countercultural outbreak that New York experienced in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with a special focus on themes such as love, sex, and gender identity.
The collective exhibition that he curated in 1989, which reflected the ravages of AIDS and heroin in the 1980s, “Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing”, caused a special impact.
Born in 1953 to a Jewish family in Washington DC, Goldin grew up among several New England foster families after her sister committed suicide.
His first contact with photography was at the age of 15, thanks to David Armstrong, one of his great friends. Goldin says that the photograph was an absolute revelation and that he found in it “a way of walking through pain”.
Together with Armstrong, the photographer began to frequent Provincetown in 1975, a vacation destination in Massachusetts very popular among homosexuals on the US East Coast, where she met those who would be the protagonists of her photographs for the next 20 years.
After graduating from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 1978, Goldin moved to New York and began making his famous photographic series about his love and sexual life and that of his friends, the most famous of them “The Ballad of sexual dependence.
After suffering an injury, which was treated with Oxycontin and which led to an addiction to this opioid, Goldin founded the activist group PAIN in 2017, with the aim of putting pressure on museums and art institutions to end their relationship with the family. Sackler.