Art and Activism

La Voz de Galicia – March 31, 2023 →

Cristina PatoIt had been some time since I wanted to see it, not only because it had gotten good reviews, but also for the fascinating relationship between art and activism it promised. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, the documentary directed by Laura Poitras deals with the work of the American photographer Nan Goldin, and about her struggle with addiction and against the hypocrisy in the world of art and philanthropy. In particular, Nan Goldin’s activism centers around two points: in the relationship of the Sackler family with the opioid epidemic that the United States is dealing with for decades (having killed more than 100,000 people in 2021), and in the relationship of the Sackler family with the world of philanthropy with museums such as the MET or the Louvre, and universities like Harvard or Oxford, naming halls and building with that last name due to the donations amounting to millions of dollars that these institutions received from the Sacklers. This same family is behind Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical company that developed the opioid analgesic OxyContin, and that after a misleading publicity campaign based on false data pointing to a low likelihood of addition, managed to normalize the use of opioids with medical prescription and created a community of addicts who didn’t know they would become such.

The documentary narrates the struggle of Goldin and of her organization, PAIN, to make museums and academic institutions co-responsible for the source of the money they receive from the Sacklers, and about what these institutions’ collaboration with the family means. And so, the documentary creates an interesting and inspirational intersection among art, activism, commitment and social responsibility taken to a revealing extreme prompting us to reflect about the crimes hidden behind many of the names of the places that we inhabit daily…

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