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Artist Goldin: Activist and "Moral Voice"

Photo: Christine Olsson / Tt / IMAGO

According to the British magazine »Art Review«, the US artist Nan Goldin is currently the most influential figure on the international art scene. The London-based magazine on Friday placed the 70-year-old artist and activist at the top of its annual "Power 100" list of the most important artists. In second place is Berlin-based artist Hito Steyerl.

"The Power List is a ranking of the hundred living personalities who shape art," the magazine writes. The significance of such lists – last week the German magazine »Monopol« published a ranking of 100 positions with Isa Genzken at the top – »Art Review« itself puts it into perspective. » Who should be where is a topic on which no one really agrees. What makes someone influential in London or New York is not necessarily what makes someone in Lagos or Kuala Lumpur influential," the post reads.

The photographer and filmmaker Goldin, who also lived in Berlin for a long time, had recently become known for her fight against the American Sackler family, the owners of a pharmaceutical company that is partly responsible for the opioid crisis in the USA.

In the meantime, the artist herself was addicted to a painkiller distributed by the company. She captured her own experiences and the extensive protests with her pictures. The documentary »All the Beauty and the Bloodshed« by Laura Poitras about this struggle won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

From the point of view of »Art Review«, Goldin is the »most visible and prominent model« of an artist who not only documents and testifies, but also acts as an activist and ethical voice.

»Art Review« sees Steyerl as a pioneer of post-internet art, whose work examines the connection between technology and digital culture with capital and conflict. Sensing and depicting the seismic shifts in culture and society have made Steyerl a kind of oracle," the magazine writes.

The top ten of the "Power 100" are strikingly diverse and female. The action and performance artist Rirkrit Tiravanija (third place), who works between Bangkok, Berlin and New York, can be found as well as US artist Simone Leigh (fourth place), a long-time fighter of black, feminist art. With the British artist Isaac Julien, the Ghanaian Ibrahim Mahama, the US conceptual artist Theaster Gates and the British director Steve McQueen ("12 Years a Slave"), four other artists follow for whom the confrontation with racism is part of their artistic work.

The indigenous group Karrabing Film Collective and the Chinese media artist Cao Fei complete the top ten ranks of the list of »Art Review«. (Read the complete »Power 100« here)