By Francisco Fileccia

1MiraMadrid gallery, in collaboration with the Luhring Augustine gallery, presents the first solo exhibition of the legendary photographer and film director Larry Clark (Tulsa, USA, 1943) in Madrid.


Before becoming a film director, Larry Clark made his name in documentary photography. Among his most recognized books are Tulsa (1971) and Teenage Lust (1983), a kind of autobiography that, according to him, recreates his adolescence from images of others.


A turbulent life.

Returned from Vietnam, in his twenties, Clark arrives in his hometown of Tulsa, where he shared a house with a prostitute and together they used heroin. The period between the 60s and the end of the 70s that is now exhibited in Madrid brings us an intimate Clark. His early works (in black and white) offer an intrusive look, like that of an infiltrator or someone who was just there and had a camera in hand. Sex, drugs, and violence are captured through a lens that blurs the boundaries between voyeurism and photo journalism. Warning! The following images may hurt your sensitivity. The photographs are of such frontality that doubts are not allowed. The images he created revive the real-life chaos he was in the late 1970s: from a James Dean-style boy playing with a gun in his mouth to lysergic teenage bacchanalia in the open air. The heartbreaking realistic, raw and simple (at first glance) tone of his work was admired by Gus Van Sant and Martin Scorsese who cited him as a key influence on the aesthetic that would work on Taxi Driver.


What is exceptional about his work is the exposition of the marginalized, the voiceless, the isolated and humiliated for not wanting to belong to a system that repressed and excluded them.


Clark describes this stage of his life as a life of ostracism. In black and white and grainy photography, the artist defines the gritty style later adopted by Nan Goldin, Antoine D’Agata, and the subsequent litter of documentary photography. It remains to be asked in another writing if the position before the camera of these reproductions is honest or exploitative.


If there is no doubt about something, it is the invariable shock capacity that persists in these photos that demystify the light and transitory happiness of a community consumed by consumption. Young 'junkies' with athletic bodies, and thieves scammed by the promise of a false better future, are the characters who exploit the limits of their body to be illuminated only once by the camera and who will inhabit forever like this thanks to the "snapshot ”.


This series of photographs document encounters that cannot be called even Dionysian. Where young suburban Americans contemporary to Vietnam share a myriad of substances, sexual encounters, violence and altercations with the police. It is only in the gaze of these self-destructive characters that the innocence and the search for an excitement that the world to which they belonged never offered them remains.


Larry Clark's cinema

Simultaneously with the first week of the exhibition there will be a film series in the Artistic Metropol room in which three of his films will be seen: Kids (1995), Another Day in Paradise (1998) and Ken Park (2002).


Kids was his first full-length film project. The controversial film portrays a day in the life of a group of boys who live in New York skateboarding, drinking alcohol and smoking. Scripted by a young Harmony Korine, barely nineteen years old, the film features the acting debut of Rosario Dawson and Chloe Sevigne. The film would be the beginning of the film career of Clark and Korine who would only work together again in Ken Park (2002).


The New York Times described it as "a wake-up call to the modern world" while in many countries it was censored and criticized with utter disapproval. This wild tale of coming of age, in a pre-internet and pre-cellular era, captures a conception of sex unrelated to romantic love and a life and a future that revolves around nothingness and being at home as little as possible.

Larry Clark. Selected Works: 1963-1979