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under the infLuenCe
Larry CLark on teLLing the truth
portrait katja rahLwes
When I Was a kId i was influenced by people like wouldn’t mind so much, because they would look good.
the comedian Lenny bruce, who was talking with people would ask, ‘is this set up? it couldn’t be,
honesty and trying to get at the truth, which wasn’t it’s just too real.’
happening in the early 1960s. also early bob dylan,
when he said you don’t have to be like your parents. when i made my first film, Kids [1995], about new
there was a photographer, w. eugene smith, a great york skateboarders, it was a scripted piece, but
photojournalist who photographed subjects like i turned that around by making the fiction film
poor blacks in the south. he would write diatribes look like a documentary. similarly, my short film
in magazines like Popular Photography about how Impaled [2006] looks at the creation of pornographic
photography could get at the truth of what was really fantasies, but the premise is documentary. it’s
going on. these people gave me inspiration when i mixing those two worlds. i use untrained actors, and,
first started making the Tulsa series of photographs if you know how to work with them, it allows for an
[1962–71] and there wasn’t supposed to be drugs in honesty about real life that translates into what
america, child abuse or incest. i saw this happening i think is cinema at its best. it was very apparent
all the time, and i tried to show what was forbidden in Impaled, which explored a completely unknown world
by hypocrisy all around me, and that’s what i’m still for me, where i talk to those auditioning to be in
trying to do. a porn film within the documentary, and everyone was
just so open.
this first work was straight documentary, but it had
a fictive quality to it that set it apart. nothing my recent series of photos are of jonathan Velasquez,
was set up, but i was thinking in cinematic terms, as a Latino kid from south Central La. i was very
i wanted to make a film, which was impossible, so i interested in the way he and his friends lived in the
had to go about it with my camera. my parents had a ghetto, where you’re supposed to listen to gangster
‘mom and pop’ baby-photo business, and it was because rap and pose in a certain way, but they were into
of my training, age fifteen, as a baby photographer punk rock, trying on different identities and being
that i was able to make a photograph at the so-called kids, which they had to fight to do because of the
decisive moment and at the same time make the people great peer pressure to conform. i made a film Wassup
look how i wanted them to look – like movie stars. Rockers [2005] about them because you never get
an everyday occurrence could look very dramatic. i to see these kids in a movie. all my work is about
could photograph someone committing a murder and they worlds you would not otherwise have seen.
Larry CLark is a photographer and fiLmmaker.
his exhibition Los AngeLes 2003–2006 is at simon Lee, London, untiL 14 marCh
ArTrEvIEw 44
Dispatches_Larry Clark.indd 44 5/2/08 14:24:13
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