The provocateur has spent decades disgusting Middle America with his films and photography – he breaks down his no holds barred, no filter vision
Nobody can say they’re as transgressive and uncompromising at 73 like Larry Clark can say it. His French film, The Smell of Us, was within an inch of its life due to what Clark calls “crazy bullshit Hollywood stuff”. His young actors went on strike because they were taking drugs and drinking and refused to show up to set. “These kids’ agent – he was a real asshole,” explains Clark. “He emailed saying, ‘Your film is finished!’ I said, ‘Yeah? Well, watch me go!’” This has always been Larry Clark’s attitude to backbiters. Instead of rolling over and admitting defeat, Clark rewrote the latter half of the film and stuck to his schedule. The Smell of Us, he asserts, will be out soon.
That’s just another notch on his belt of having to deal with the unintelligentsia who didn’t see things his way. The photographer poked the eyes of the art community in 1971 with his book Tulsa, exploring the intensely personal lives of wayward youth. He followed that streak with Kids (1995), one of the most controversial and powerful films ever made about the “secret life of kids that adults are not allowed into.” Its subject made national news and was denounced by a Britsh MP as a “trend almost verging on the paedophilic”. Again and again – with his photography and films like Bully (2001), Ken Park (2002), and Marfa Girl (2012) – Clark has shit all over stereotypes and inhabited a world he’s created all his own, one he now shares with all the outliers who identify with his take no prisoners approach to creating.
He’s not setting out to be controversial, he avows. Clark is just telling stories about people, people that we often don’t have access to. Despite countless haters over four decades of his career trying to curb his disruptive momentum, this man simply cannot – will not – be stopped. He breaks down his don’t give a fuck manifesto.
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