Nan Goldin, Lil Laughing, Swampscott, MA, 1996. Silver dye bleach print (Cibachrome), 11 × 14 inches (27.9 × 35.6 cm). Gift of Lillian and Hyman Goldin. Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery. © Nan Goldin
Renowned photographer Nan Goldin has a long association with Boston and specifically the ICA/Boston. In 1985, the ICA presented Goldin’s legendary The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, one of her first museum exhibitions, and has shown her work numerous times since. Lil Laughing, Swampscott, MA was part of a 2006 gift of photographs from the collection of Lillian and Hyman Goldin, the artist’s parents.
Sitting on the edge of a bed, the artist’s mother laughs as she grips “stress balls,” an element that inserts tension into the familial scene. Lil’s expression lies somewhere between hysterical laugh and primal scream, an edge often evoked in Goldin’s photographs. This is one of the first works to enter the ICA’s collection, and it marks the museum’s commitment to this original and important Boston-born artist.