Nan one month after being battered, the best-known photograph of Nan Goldin, shows her with two black eyes, the sclera of the left shot through with blood. She took the self-portrait in 1984, after a violent encounter with a boyfriend, and later included it in her nearly 700-part slideshow projection, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, on view at MoMA for the next several months. The Ballad is full of such episodes of sexually charged violence: In one picture, a large bruise on a woman's leg takes the shape of a heart; another depicts a saddened, naked woman in bed, her blank-faced lover behind her. Goldin has called the work "the diary I let people read," but it is also an assertion of the inseparability of violence and lust. Goldin herself doesn't find the pictures celebratory: "Can you imagine having a sex urge from The Ballad?" she once asked a reporter.
Nan Goldin, Max and Richard, New York City (detail), 1983. Courtesy MoMA.