Larry Clark on Cutting through the Bullshit and Hypocrisy of America (2007)

By Raphaël Cuir, originally published in Art Press, August 2007

A year ago, seven short films by Marina Abramovic, Matthew Barney, Gaspar Noé, Richard Prince, Marco Brambilla, Sam Taylor-Wood and Larry Clark were shown at Cannes under the title Destricted. The idea of producers Mel Agace and Neville Wakefield was to deal “explicitly” with sexuality, and so blur the boundaries between art and pornography. The films go on general release in France this spring (April 25) and a DVD is due in October. Here was a perfect reason for making an old dream come true and meeting up with Larry Clark, whose short is definitely the most graphic of the seven.(1)
While the images from Larry Clark’s Tulsa series (1963 – 1971) may have lost some of their subversive edge over the last forty-odd years, they remain as intense as ever. Clark always claims that there is a price, an emotional price to be paid for such violence. In the past, this meant the return of the repressed, the other side of the American dream (some people still haven’t got over it). Today, still, it means opening “the whole of human nature to consciousness of the self” (Bataille). 

And, since “we cannot know what the body is capable of” (Spinoza), we must explore, and there are many surprises ahead of us (Nietzsche: “What’s amazing is the body”). Adolescence is a key moment in this exploration; it is when an individual discovers the possibilities offered by physical maturity. The physical omnipotence of teenagers, who balk at nothing but do not always measure the consequences of their acts, is at the heart of Clark’s concerns. How lives change, get trapped, slip away from themselves, how they avoid the worst, how, at each moment, our acts engage our responsibility, condition our lives, and what the world does with us—that is what Clark’s films home in on. Clark himself has looked deep into the abyss, and though he has stepped back from the edge he continues to show us what is there—what regards us there. He has chosen to exhibit the “brutality” of facts (Michel Leiris), but in the intimacy and the density of the moment preserved forever on film. Forty years on, Clark’s first images continue to remind us that the abyss is within us (Victor Hugo). His Kids is already a classic.

An Interview with Larry Clark: “If It’s Part of Life, It’s (Not) Pornography” >>>

Cover of Tulsa (1963-1971) by Larry Clark

In a career that spanned more than four decades, Carlo Mollino designed buildings, homes, furniture, cars, aircraft. One of the most dashing figures of mid-century Italy, Mollino was famed for his design finesse and his elegant organicism. In 1949 he published an important book on photography: Message from the Darkroom. Sometime around 1960, he began to seek out women—mostly dancers—in his native Turin, inviting them to his villa for late-night modeling sessions. The models would pose against extraordinary backdrops, designed by Mollino, in clothing, wigs and accessories that he had carefully selected. Finally, having printed the Polaroids, Mollino would painstakingly amend them with an extremely fine brush, to at- tain his idealized vision of the female form. The 1200 pictures remained a secret until after his death, in 1973.

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