Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Richard Kern Photography
I woke up this morning after two failed attempts of getting to the lounge room and then retreating back to bed and decided to embrace the bourgeois life- helped by the fact I started to clean my desk at midnight and finished at about one in the morning. What can I say when I want to clean, I clean. This morning's companions are an extra weak cup of coffee to try and wean myself off before semester one starts next week, the gentle tones of The XX and some new photography to investigate. That's right, I am trying to be thoughtful when considering art. I discover most stuff when scanning through magazines or Tumblr but it makes me sad to see such good composition and not have people know about it so sharing it on my blog seemed like a good step.
Also I am trying to knock down some drafted ideas and just generally clean and organise all aspects of life: tangible and online before I am swamped with the demands of a rigorous timetable.
So Richard Kern is what I would consider a bigwig artist and photographer since he's released a mammoth ELEVEN books, mainly focusing on portraits which are a real niche for him but there's also film making with pieces and video being shown at The Modern of Modern Art in New York. Isn't that what every budding artist dreams of? Being shown off on a plate to the world via that eccentric and acclaimed city of New York where so much folklore exists about models/ writers/ artists/ creative minds all coming together in the city that never sleeps? He lives and works there so I suppose all the fairy tales must be true if people are content to live and work there, immersing themselves in the culture of it all. I would always be drawn back to the suburbs or something to get perspective on things... Anyway, there's a playful and sexual appeal about most of the photographs Kern takes in opposition to the "darker sides of human nature" which is something I always like to explore. Even if I have just been conditioned to years of studying Shakespeare plays, who cares. In particular there's a strong focus on women and that we are complex beings who can seem straight forward but be sexual as well and that speaks to me because well... it is true. I study straight up science at university and focus a lot on my studies but I also like to watch films and read art magazines and hang out.
Kern is a regular contributor to obscure magazines named Vice and Purple, but I believe it was seeing him in Russh that caught my eye and made me want to dig up more. You can see why I'd be interested in becoming a palaeontologist now: I draw parallels between discovering something about a dead species and a new muse in the art scene. Although admittedly, it's a little easier to learn about the living person and not sift my way through boring science journals for peer reviewed articles. Speaking of which, I may possibly have three Biology essays to hand in this semester. What in the name of sanity have I done. But luckily I have squillions of magazines stored around my bedroom and only need to wander around for a few seconds and pull out something with at least one interesting article or captioned photograph to follow up and send me on a journey of creativity to balance out both lobes of my brain. Otherwise, you know, I might become lopsided or something.
I now remember what the article content was for Russh! Richard Kern described himself as having done this for years and quote unqoute evolved into a dirty old man for which he was known for. I kind of like the themes explored, young women captured being vulnerable but on the cusp of discovery their sexuality and how he liked his models to be clean skinned and without being ravaged by tattoos. Something as personal as an inked tattoo can transform the girl next door into the girl next door from the trailer park and being someone from the boring suburbs who knows peers from high school now with tatoos I agree. Sometimes they are wonderful and personal but at other times I want to slam my head into a brick wall and just question these people and their motives entirely.
I've tried to feature a wider body of work and show bits and pieces for other people to explore. Ever since watching a documentary on Australian photographer Polly Borland late one night I've viewed hosiery in a much more imaginative way that can distort perceptions and stuff. She famously puts it on her subjects head and then draws with oil pastels whereas Kern more or less uses them as they were intended. He did a few shots for Playboy, one of which I featured for it's stark use of the colour red, it's strong connotations in conjunction with the vulnerable pose of the model and Lolita-esque heart-shaped glasses. Yesterday I woke up really wanting her amazing braids and stuff for my own long hair but I had neither the time nor skills to pull it all together. The image is pornographic, but surprisingly tasteful and I have already been pulled up on having naked ladies on my blog so I have really nothing else to lose at this stage. Other than street cred for knowing what I'm talking about. But let's face it, I never had that. Two years of high school Literature prepared me for bull-shitting mastery since it doesn't seem art-based and they are just living precariously on that line of living to the fullest and YOLO.
Nudity is prevalent, even in the portraits of respected artists/ musicians such as Nick Cave, looking like Nick Cave always does but with naked women sitting on a satin bed behind him which of course just intensifies his indifferent expression. You may have the view that nudity and art don't go hand in hand, so you'll walk away with maybe a negative frame of mind after flicking through these photographs but I was impressed with the lighting of the Beds Project. Simply leaning over someone and straddling them to take their portrait usually results in the strangest of strange lighting and dark patches encircling features such as the eyes, nose and chin but Kern has naturally eliminated any chance of that happening. And I want to learn the secret but usually when I try photography it lasts for about a week and then I just lazily return my camera to the automatic setting. YOUTH CULTURE FOREVER. So I will clearly never become a photographer but while this mood lasts at least I can spruik someone else's art which is actually worthy of praise as opposed to the petty and amateur stuff that I do.
*all photographs are property of Richard Kern, please don't get mad/ be offended, I just really dig what you do*