Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kiss the Past Hello by Larry Clark

The idea is to put all these fucking teenage boys in one place and just finish it there. just put the whole obsession with going back in one book and maybe it will be finished, maybe I can do something else. - Larry Clark interviewed by Mike Kelly

Larry Clark's latest is a book titled Kiss the Past Hello which was published on the occasion of his show at the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and it has one promising quality, if you missed out on Tulsa, Teenage Lust, Punk Picasso or the Los Angeles 2003-2006 Volume 1 then this would be a book to fill a gap on your shelf. If you have any of those aforementioned books then this will seem nothing more than a reshuffling of the same deck of cards. Seems putting the past away is much harder for Mr. Clark since he spoke to Kelly in the late 1980s.

No doubt Clark has produced a few great books over his lifetime and this is no small task as most suffer a sophomore slump and fade quickly. Clark obsession with youth and specifically boys comes from, in his words - a desire of wanting to "go back" and "be them" and not possess them - has remained the motivating factor in making new work in both still images, collage and films. An honest and sad confession that has made his work worth following.

As he shifted from the drug scene into describing narcissism the pictures became looser and less edited (reminding Kelly of action painting), the next logical step for Clark was to move into film. The difficulty is, with exception of his first film Kids, the way Clark approached film has sucked some of the spontaneity out of his process with contrived plot lines and action.

So in a way, Kiss the Past Hello is the return to his youthful, confessionary truth that he seems to partake in every few years but no matter how many times work can be recycled, the need to republish it in a book turns him into a franchise.

Kiss the Past Hello will be hard for fans of Clark to resist. It comes in a box, has a nice design, a poster and a supplement booklet with several essays and the interview with Kelly. The book is fairly cheaply printed and seems like it is the quality of on-demand production even though it was printed in Antwerp. It was produced in an edition of 2500.

If you haven't had enough of kissing the past hello you will no doubt also hear about Clark's Tulsa Reader 1971-2010 which is an 'artist book' of interviews, articles, press releases, gallery memos, letters to the editors - surrounding Larry Clark's controversial photo series, Tulsa.

I thought at first this would be something worthwhile and it might be for someone, but the content looked much less interesting than it sounds. The presentation is a thick xerox book perfect bound (basic unsewn glue binding) with floppy materials. The 'collage' aspect that seems to be touting an artist book flavor seems a stretch but I guess that is cutting it too close to defining what an 'artist book' can be. Past or present this seems like shelf filler to me.