We like Larry Clark. Born in Tulsa and now working in New York, his work has remained one of the truest depictions of American youth gone wrong we’ve ever seen. Ever since his debut, the seminal ‘Tulsa’, a shocking portrait into the lives of IV amphetamine addicts in the late 70s, he has managed to shock and awe audiences with an unforgettable slew of feature films, photography exhibits and collage works showcasing the seedy underbelly of suburban youth across America.
Clark’s contentious, controversial shots of teenage sexuality slash violence burn into your retina and show you a world you probably never knew existed, all from the safety of your dorm room and galleries across the world.
He features on the sort of over bored, self assured kids living for the now, with no faith in or care for the future, hard drugs their preferred escape from the mundanity of their daily existence, begging the question what went wrong? These aren’t street kids born of poverty or a life of violence (some of them anyway) or mental illness, just kids like you and me fallen onto the wrong side of the tracks by a series of bad choices.
Thanks to the massive success of ‘Kids’, his and Harmony Korines feature film on the subject, based around the gritty, drugs’n’sex fueled, lives of NY skater teens, peppered by the sort of casual violence most of us only see on the movies, Larry became a household name and managed to get funding for the rest of his projects including the terrifying ‘Ken Park’, ‘What’s up rockers’ and rumour has it he’ll be behind the camera bringing us a full length documentary on rising hip hop upstarts Odd Future.
From the initial reaction to his work it was clear that suburban America wasn’t ready for Clark’s reflection of the society they had indeed created, whilst the world at large (we own a russian dubbed version of the original ‘Ken Park’ (b& in the US), flocked to see the film, hollywood was having none of it, that is until the money from Kids came rolling in and the money made finally gave credence to Larry and his work. Clark has since been given carte blanche’ to film whatever he sees fit and his work remains as shocking, fascinating and true to life as one would expect even to this day.
For his newest ‘What do you do for fun?’ exhibition at the Simon Lee Gallery, running until the 2nd of April, Clark is presenting us with a monochromatic body of his work spanning his career to date. Clearly not for the faint hearted the show pulls no punches and will send many a weekend warrior running back to the safety of their cannabis spliffs and xbox lifestyles. Larry provides us with a look into the reality and horror of violence, real sex, hard drug abuse, hedonism and a live-fast lifestyle with dying young a regular occurence. More than a few of Clark’s subjects’ ended up gettin’ ‘the blues’, death, as explained by Matt Dillon in Drugstore Cowboy (no more junk for deadies), Requiem for a dream this ain’t.
Most up and coming photographers avoid the skate parks and dingy bars that surround the train station for fear of getting the £9000 DSLR mummy bought them stolen by a deranged crackhead but this is Larry’s world and this is Larry’s art.
Clark’s ability to gain access to this sort of world is what has made him a genuine legend in the field of photojournalism and has influenced many, many watered down fashion shoots, ads and totally boring student portfolios we keep getting sent (Please stop sending us pictures of your boring stoner mates smoking reefers and passing out drunk, it doesn’t make you ‘edgy’ and ‘dangerous’ like Larry, it juts makes us want to stab you in your spoilt middle-class twat faces with dirty needles).
The show has been running for a few weeks now and features some of Clark’s best known work, a short film and lots of hand written letters from those that passed away, ended up in chokey and didn’t become major film stars like Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson. These were kids taken from the street for their authenticity, an authenticity that cost more than a few their lives. Most of Clark’s books are also available for purchase at the gallery including some special editions. We suggest you check it out and learn a little about real photojournalism, from the work we are forced to look at on a daily basis it really seems like a lot of you need it.
“Man this guy got some next level material.”
“I love larry clark.”
– a pedophile