Monday, November 8, 2010

Larry Clark in Paris

The latest exhibition of Larry Clark's works is creating a heated debate in the media and the art world in Paris. The city of Paris which owns the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, has decided to forbid the entrance to minors ( below 18 years old in France.) In an interview for Beaux Arts Magazine, the artist himself states that he was stunned by the decision and that he has no problems showing his photographs to his own children.

The exhibition titled "Kiss the Past Hello" starts with a display of photographs made by Clark's mother. She had some talent, documenting dog shows, family events, a homey, warm world with a Rockwellian flavor.

Without transition, the viewer is plunged into the dark world of drugs with "Tulsa" (1971.) The photographs, all in black and white and of a small format, line up the wall and the procession is slow, every viewer wants to be confronted with the images. We take turns to look at these scenes, taken in Tulsa, Oklahoma, documenting Clark's friends shooting drugs: a dark background, bright lights, needles.
The second room is lined up with bigger format photographs with "Teenage Lust" (1983) and are mainly related to sex: close photographs of phallus's and vagina's without surrounding, just anatomical pieces or sex acts sometimes perverted like in "Brother and Sister" (1973). The pictures, without poetry, like a documentary, hit the viewer.

The next room has photographs in colors, depicting poor Latino neighborhoods, and introduce us to the world of poverty and marginalisation.

Clark's subjects do not inspire pity. He brings up the conflicts of teenagers experimenting with drugs, sex and guns. Their acts are not perversions, they are confusion, search and sometimes just games.

The question remains, censorship, yes or no? Should we forbid teens to go to the museum? The Mairie de Paris is afraid of being sued. What about putting a disclaimer at the beginning of the exhibition and warn the viewer? Parents could decide if they want to bring their children. Teenagers would be also warned.
Teens are not allowed to look at a document showing their peers living through their darkest times. I can imagine teens running out of the exhibition to shoot drugs and have sex! Instead, it could be a great starter for discussions between generations.

The great retrospective, fifty years of the artist's work with more than 200 photographs brings the crowd to the museum. Pornography or paedophilia? These words have been used. I do not agree, the photographs are a testimony, photojournalism.

Larry Clark is a mere observer... like his mother. Just different subjects!

the photographs of Larry Clark are available on numerous sites

No comments: