Fresh from causing controversy in Paris where under 18s were banned from his retrospective ‘Kiss The Past Hello’ because of the sexual, violent and druggy subject matter, we speak to photographer and filmmaker Larry Clark as he prepares for the opening of ‘What Do You Do For Fun?’ in London.
Clark found the Parisian mayor’s decision to stop the local kids from seeing the show “ridiculous”, but luckily for London’s teens with a taste for brutal and beautiful images, there’s no such age restriction here. This latest show presents some of Clark’s vintage works as well as new collages and, excitingly for fans of his cult book Tulsa, a silent film bringing the characters of the photos to life. At times sinister and listless and at others Charlie Chaplin comic, the footage depicts a group of friends hanging around a flat (cue Kids flashbacks). It’s a testament to the time, and fun to imagine the dynamics and dialogue between them.
i-D have long been fans of Clark’s work (click here for director Jay Rodan’s film for DIRTY DURTY DIARY in conjunction with Clark himself, Kayt Jones and Tiffany Limos), and jumped at the chance to chat with him ahead of the exhibition’s opening tomorrow. The opening also marks the UK premiere of the 64-minute silent film, the delay to which hasn’t been an attempt at exclusivity but rather a case of lost and found. Clark admits, “I’m totally disorganised. I pulled out a box with all of these great old vintage prints and things I’d forgotten. It was kind of amazing. I’m very pleased with the piece. It’s my friends coming to life again,” he says, adding, “because almost everyone in the film’s dead and has been dead for quite a while.”
Clark never fully finished the film because he found it impossible solo shooting a movie and actually abandoned film altogether until his 1995 masterpiece, Kids, to which his collages on display were a precursor. Traditionally a photobook man, Clark says he became “sick of seeing everything in double page spreads. The collages are about telling stories in a different way. There’s a work called ‘1992’ where there’s every photograph I took of this kid over a two day period, which was me getting ready to make a film.”
For a man who started out taking photos of a “secret, secret life” in the 1960s, it must be odd living in a time where, as he describes, “everything is documented, everything is photographed…everyone is a photographer and everybody is a filmmaker.” He ponders for a moment, “Does that make me obsolete, because it’s all out there?” before asserting, “But then you have a show like what happened in Paris and it’s deemed so dangerous there’s outrage and kids can’t see the work!”
He may be in his late sixties, but Larry Clark is still an enfant terrible at heart and whilst he says he’s struggling with what to do next and “it’s harder to find the hidden”, he reveals his plans for a film on an “unknown” group in Paris. And since he says art’s all about “the way you do it”, he’s quietly confident he can continue to do it with a feeling that few others possess.
Larry Clark, What do you do for fun? is on at the Simon Lee Gallery from 10 February to 2 April.
Images Courtesy Simon Lee Gallery