Teenage Lust // Tulsa

“Whereas Tulsa only hinted at the photographers involvement in the netherworld of drugs, guns, and casual sex that it depicted, Teenage Lust makes it explicit.” pg 198 Crisis of the Real

“There was no judgment, no moral point of view in his early work: these kids all look like they’re simply having a good time, as they shoot up or point guns at one another. But they still disturb viewers today because of that” https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/jun/05/larry-clark-tulsa-teenage-lust-photography-controversy

I feel Clark was revolutionary in questioning his own work. Publishing Tulsa in 1971, the obvious signs are there that he is involved in drug abuse and that this is his circle of friends. Yet, the focus seems to be on the photography rather than the content. The images look almost artistic, with the light and angles making unusual frames that are eye-catching, but fail to take you deep in to the atmosphere. We do see some scenes where the people are injecting, but many are frames surrounding the narrative, of the people. 10 years later, in 1981, publishing Teenage Lust, an ‘autobiography’, it seems he has reflected upon his earlier project to re-create a version of it, a more explicit one. The content is evident from the front cover, a more daring equivalent to the man with a gun in the first project. He has put himself into the project, ‘I not the Other’, addressing why the project is in such a form. It could be argued that once he was out of the drug addiction, this is when he has the chance to reflect on the work as an owner, instead of being scared to present his wild lifestyle.

But why were people so sensitive to the project before? I feel another reason people have come to accept projects about the photographer is how we are more exposed to ‘rough’ media, scenes of sex and violence. Although people will still dispute the need for this explicit scenes;

This YouTube link presented 17 photographs that were banned from a exhibition in Paris, due to under 18’s being allowed in. Although I agree that there should be an age ban on viewing work of this kind, I feel the work should still of been shown, with the ban put in place that the under 18’s cannot enter, or the work is put in a separate area, to completely appreciate that work as a whole piece.


Crisis Of the Real


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