Dear Rusty,

A few streams are converging in my mind right now re. fashion, art, childhood, feminism and counterfactual worlds. First, right the fuck on re. aviator glasses. I think generally aviation-, motoring- and equestrian-inspired trends are a good bet for timeless chic (chique!), because when is it not going to be totally sweet to look like you’re about to go somewhere else? This boils down to Violet G. Beekeeper’s first rule of fashion: “Of that which conveys you? Then it should array you!” I have that tattooed across my face. HEY PORTLAND I’M COMING.

Second, the Awl has a tribute to? Review of? Kids up because that film is now 15, which means I am like 103. I was the same age as the kids in that film when it came out in a similar or perhaps totally identical city and all I could think of watching it was that I was probably going to die a virgin and here was everyone else out getting awesome AIDS and watching bum fights. I wasn’t shocked or impressed or depressed or anything by the premise at the time, and I can’t imagine I’d be more tolerant now, when it’s hard to even remember how scary AIDS felt (a)as I was transitioning into a time when I’d have to think about sexual health and (b)as The America was transitioning into a time where HIV was becoming a manageable-ish chronic condition.

That said, I remember it being pretty visually arresting–a warm diffuse light, deep secondary colors and texture, texture, texture. No surprise, Larry Clark’s a great photographer. But then I read this comment and had to bash my own head in with a skateboard. I mean, whatever, childhoods in the Magnasanti run the gamut, and wistfully recalling back when is like a civic passtime. That’s not what bugged me. It was this:

Larry Clark pretty much invented and perfected the genre of photography that people like Nan Goldin, Ryan McGinley, Ari Marcopolous etc. work in to this day.

Oh boy is that giving Clark way too much credit. Rusty, I am going to translate into baseball for you: “Ferguson Jenkins invented and perfected the whatever of whatever that Nolan Ryan, Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux practice to this day.” Look, I am like a one woman Nan Goldin pep squad so a little bit biased, but seriously now.  Larry Clark’s Tulsa (which is heartbreaking and amazing work an image from which I’m not even going to link to because they all make me too sad) came out in ’71, Goldin’s first show in ’73 and that Goldin is still currently a working photographer. But they are totally contemporaries and ok so my feelings about Ryan McGinley’s photography aren’t really my feelings about Ryan McGinley’s photography if you know what I mean so I won’t say mean things but she’s out of his generation and out of his fucking league.

Now who cares, right? Me. ME I CARE. Because while Nan does get plenty of art world love, I really don’t think she’s credited for her genius and influence.  What you probably recognize as the hostage-photo American Apparel aesthetic is often traced lo all the way back to Terry Richardson who was, a few months ago, yelled at by the internet for being totally gross. I don’t doubt his grossness AT ALL OMG I WILL TELL YOU A STORY IN PERSON ONE TIME REMIND ME. But then you can’t tell me anything about the fashion industry that would surprise me (Mr. Beekeeper did a stint in fashion, STINT OVER THANK THE JESUS), so my reaction was like, “oh, institutionalized child rape? Sounds about right.”

He was rightly excoriated by some and defended by others. But there was a lot of “he’s such an amazing, innovative photographer” thrown around. No. False. If that is the currency which is purchasing him the ability to bang models, it is forged. Look, corporate fashion has the attention span of a coked up gnat. I know it’s really hard to ask them to think all the way back to 1985 but what TR is doing is a cheap and gross imitation and feelingless version of the queer verite work Nan did. I know I know I know that it’s unrealistic to expect everyone who weighs in on a fashion photographer scandal to have any sense of the genealogy of photography, but I got so grumpy when I saw this whole discussion unfold without the premise that he was some sort of fringe-occupying visual renegade challenged. Nan. Nan Nan Nan Nan Nan.

Nan.

Yours,

Violet

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Comments

  • Rusty B. Schwartz  On 28 July, 2010 at 11:41 PM

    This is a good one, V. Very unusual sports metaphor, but I like it. And I didn’t expect Magnasanti to show up but I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. We’re so far apart and yet we consumed the same internets. The internets are the new constellations. Cause I don’t know what’s what up there. I like what we did here today. Stay tuned for something I have to say about the electoral college (good grief that sounds boring), the twin paradox, and whatever else I’ve been promising to talk about. -R

  • Violet G. Beekeeper  On 29 July, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    It’s like you’re Feivel, and I’m that chick in the Feivel movie. soooooooooomewhere ooooooout there you are in eeeeecooon schoooool. I’m glad you liked my sports metaphor, it was entirely informed by googling.

  • Rusty B. Schwartz  On 30 July, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    Yeah, on the first pass the sports metaphor got me a little worried but it tracked surprisingly well with your specific criticism. And re Ryan McGinley: umyeahiknowwhatyoumean (i think!)

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