Larry Clark still causing trouble with racy photography exhibition


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In France, where sexually charged art is usually no big deal and ads featuring topless women grace public billboards, a photography exhibition by American filmmaker Larry Clark has been causing an unexpected ruckus for its overtly racy content.

Kiss the Past Hello,’ currently at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, features approximately 200 works depicting young adults, adolescents and others in sometimes explicit poses. The exhibition includes black-and-white works from Clark’s series ‘Tulsa’ (1971) and ‘Teenage Lust’ (1983), as well as previously unseen works from the same period. In addition, the show features color photos from Clark’s series ‘Los Angeles 2003-2010.’


Earlier this month, the Paris government banned the exhibition for people under 18 years of age, a decision that Clark has decried as an attack on youth. The controversial ban has also been criticized by various politicians who have called it an act of censorship and an overreaction.

According to the city’s official website, the photographs in question come from Clark’s ‘Teenage Lust’ series, which, it claims, features images of a pornographic nature as well as depictions of junkies in the process of shooting up.

The controversy shows no signs of dying down. Recently, a group called the Alliance Générale Contre le Racisme et pour le Respect de l’Identité Française et Chrétienne (General Alliance Against Racism and for the Respect of the French and Christian Identity) has called for judicial action against the exhibition.

‘It’s a question no more and no less of a pornographic exhibition featuring minors that is being justified ... in the name of modern art,’ said a statement issued by the organization.

In Switzerland, an arts center has recently removed two photographs by Clark that were part of an unrelated exhibition on the seven deadly sins. The photos reportedly feature youths in sexually suggestive poses. The director of the Centre Paul Klee de Berne reportedly stated that the removal of the Clark photographs was done in light of the controversy at the Paris exhibition.

France’s major newspapers have been running editorials and opinion articles concerning the Paris show, which has been the talk of the French art world this fall.


Always a cultural lightening rod, Clark rose to fame (and infamy) with his aggressively sexual films about dissolute youths, including ‘Kids,’ ‘Bully’ and ‘Ken Park.’ His most recent movie to be distributed in the U.S. was ‘Wassup Rockers.’ Clark has shown his photographs in exhibitions around the world.

‘Kiss the Past Hello’ is scheduled to run at the Paris museum through the beginning of January.

-- David Ng