The Bug.

It’s time I admitted that I have the “Travel Bug”.

I’ve been to South East Asia, and I’ve been back from Amsterdam for 2 weeks and I can’t wait to get back out into the unknown and explore beyond my comfort zone.

But before my next trip to whoever knows where, I want to catch you up on the recent adventures to Amsterdam.

Although I went with friends I spent most of my time there on my own taking in the vast amounts of arts and culture Amsterdam has to offer.

Whilst I was there I saw two exhibitions (in the same venue); one being a preview show, and the other a show I’ve wanted to see for a long time: Tulsa/Teenage Lust. But whilst I was there I did write some expanded notes/views about the shows I saw and how they made me feel.

To save you the trouble of reading through a compiled version of the notes I made I’ve split everything into multiple posts. It’ll also make it that bit easier for me to process the posts too.

Larry Clark, Tulsa. FOAM fotographie museum, Amsterdam.

My first impression of the exhibition came from the apparent rawness of the photographs that is complemented by the way the fibre based gelatin silver prints are framed: flattened, but unmounted. This method seems to suit the photographs and seemingly allows us to see the photos in their grittiest light.

It might just be me but I picked up on a couple of micro-narratives within Tulsa, where 2 prints are aligned vertically showing an apparent before and after, the result is quite powerful (especially the elderly man seemingly shooting up into his calf and not hitting a vein), the primal scream we see on his face is harrowing.
A second micro-narrative I picked up on is one of a female dressed in a middle-class fashion before, I assume, the drugs; and an after once she became dependant on amphetamines.

A diptych I saw in Tulsa is quite a poignant one, where a male smoking a cigarette laying on a mattress-less bed with a several month old baby looking dead straight into the lens of Clark’s camera is twinned with a photo of what I connote to be the mother of the baby casually admiring the fact that the possible father of the baby is caring for said child; as much as a drug dependant youth can look after a child. But on closer inspection we see the male clenching his eyebrows as if to say “What are you looking at?! I already have someone watching me with a camera.” Although the lighting suggests different times of day, and the perspectives are wildly different, I can’t help but see a link in the photos and see this as being one of the most powerful (possibly coincidental, or intentional pairings, I’ll never know) set of photographs in the Tulsa exhibit. (At time of writing.)

At the end of the Tulsa exhibit, we are reunited with one of the most, apparently, lively characters in the exhibit. This fellow has a heart shape tattoo on his right bicep and when we are reintroduced to him some years later in the series he has shoulder length hair and is visibly jaded. On the last wall of the exhibit we see the male turn into an abuser. Amphetamines may affects a persons people’s mental capabilities but it’s quite shocking to see such an amusing character become a person who cares so little for other human beings. In the last 2 photographs that I can recall he is giving a girl a shot of amphetamines and giving another a shot for sex.