Larry Clark: Tulsa and Teenage Lust

In 1971 Larry Clark wrote on the pages of Camera magazine: “I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in January 1943. When I was 16 I started shooting valo. Valo was a nasel inhaler you could buy at the drugstore for a dollar with a tremendous amount of amphetamine in it. We would work up a shot and shoot it. I shot with my friends everyday through high school. When I was eighteen I left Tulsa and went to art school and studied photography. In 1963 I went back to Tulsa and shot valo and took pictures for a few months. Then I went to New York City to become a magazine photographer but I was drafted so I did two years in the army.”

“All my friends back in Tulsa were into burglary and armed robbery and did time in the penitentiary. Also my younger sister was now shooting. I went back two or three times and in 1968 I spent the summer with my friends and did pictures and 16mm film and tape recordings. I didn’t do many pictures because there was so much dope around. We had more than you could shoot. We lived in an apartment with some girls who were prostitutes and then had some tricks who were doctors so we had everything from liquid amphetamine to morphine pharmaceutical. The police were hot on everybody and busted the door down a few times. I was arrested for weed in one bust and the police took my camera and film and recorder and tape. I got the recorder and camera back a year later abut they still have some film and tape.”

As direct and unmediated as his words, Larry Clark’s early projects Tulsa and Teenage Lust depict violence, sex and drug use with rawness, unpolished truth and subjectivity. These two series, on which Clark worked between 1963 and 1983, and which established his reputation, are currently on show at Foam Museum in Amsterdam. Larry Clark – Tulsa/Teenage Lust will run through September 12th 2014.

Images courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine Gallery