In his current exhibition at Simon Lee Gallery in London, the American Artist/filmmaker Larry Clark takes a departure from the focus of his previous works. While his earlier series “Tulsa”, “Teenage Lust” and the film, “Kids”, took a hard unblinking look at teenage sex and drug use. This new series entitled simply, “Los Angeles 2003-2006″, follows the life of Jonathan Velasquez, a teenage Latino skater from East Los Angeles, through his adolescent years. Velasquez seems comfortable allowing the “old man”, (Clark is 36 years his senior), to hang out with him and his friends as they go about having their fun. Remember your own youth, don’t we all wish we could still have this much fun.
Clark’s previous series work in a similar vein to that of his photographic contemporaries such as Nan Goldin and Dash Snow. Each of them investigates the culture of sex and drugs. The departure that Clark makes with this new series is that no overt sex or drug use can be seen. In their previous works Goldin, Snow and Clark, left one with a feeling of hopelessness and despair.
This time Clark closes in on his subject, snapping close-up photos that seem to reveal the inner workings of the teenage mind, showing the hope and belief of a promising future that comes with new freedom. The rebel attitude is still evident however, especially in the tee shirts they wear. Their shirts pronounce themselves as, “Misfits”, “Ramones“, “Gringo” “Zero”, “Lower Class Brats”, these kids seem certain that they can make a difference. They probably don’t realize the weight they are taking on their shoulders, but this sort of confidence is to be encouraged. Maybe that’s what comes from finally being able to grow a little mustache.