Monday, September 28, 2009

Blog Assignment No. 3: "Tulsa" from "The Secret Life of Objects" at Miday Contemporary Art

"Tulsa" is a body of photographs on silver gelatin print taken by Larry Clark. The forty-four total photo graphs are all black and white, 11''X14'', and, despite their variation in between vertical and horizontal orientation, form, an overall rectangle on the wall.
According to the International Center Of Photography's information on a Larry Clark Exhibition, on, which can be found here on their website, the photographs were "taken in three protracted series between 1963 and 1971." (par. 1)
Looking at all of photographs, I felt a little overwhlemed, mainly due to subject matter, but also because it seemed hard to pick out the formal elements of the principles or art and design. But after continued veiwing, I began to pick out an overall sense of unity amoung them. All were black and white, had the same amount of contrast, and the same size. This is all about light, contrast, and value. Although orientation varied, it did not take away from this unity (which one might call unity within variety). There was also untiy and repitition amoung subject matter.
While I gazed at this monumental collection of work on the white wall of the Midway Contemporary Art gallery, I was dragged into the house in Tulsa, Oklahoma and stood in the midst of Clark's world of sex, violence, and drug use that occurred there. The snap shots of all this bore down on me and leave me strangely interested instead of anxious or disgusted, as some might have been. It almost makes a person feel guilty for being so enthralled with these raw images. I found myself curious as I stares at a middle-aged man, smoking a cigarette and lightly holding a baby wrapped in a blanket, or a young man sitting shirtless on a bed, holding a gun, looking away from the camera with the facial experssion of a young hollywood rebel, or the myraid of naked women shooting up herion while enagaging in sexual acts. I couldn't help but wonder what day to day life was like in this house: who owned it?; how many people legitamately lived there?; did anyone have a job?; why are there babies in the house? These questions pressed my mind as I kept gazing, my eyes shooting between images, pausing briefly at the ones that caught my attention. As I continued on thinking about these images, I began to ponder what does all this has to say. Could Clark be telling us that we all have the potential to reach this dark side of humanity be baraiding us with these photographs? Is it a warning? Is he saying that it's harder to achieve a successful life than to throw away everything and spend your days in a drug induced blur? But even that life can be a hard one. One must worry about getting their next high; when money is low, getting that next high becomes a desparate enough goal that you may engage in violence and demeaning sexual acts. Maybe Clark is just stating the facts. Maybe he's just saying that this is going on and this is the way that it is, interpertations are open.

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