Unruly Bodies: Dismantling Larry Clark’s Tulsa

UC Riverside students curate collection at California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock

Larry Clark, Untitled, 1963, Tulsa, 1963-71. Copyright Larry Clark; Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – A group of art history and public history students at the University of California, Riverside will unveil a new exhibition at the California Museum of Photography (CMP) at UCR ARTSblock called “Unruly Bodies: Dismantling Larry Clark’s Tulsa.” The exhibition will open with a reception at CMP on Thursday, June 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

“Unruly Bodies” is a historically informed reassessment of the artist Larry Clark’s “Tulsa.” The controversial 1971 book consists of 50 images depicting a tight circle of friends and drug addicts in Tulsa, Oklahoma, photographed over a span of nine years (1963-71) by one of their own, Clark himself. On first appearing, the book was hailed as “a devastating portrait of an American tragedy” and embraced as an artistic watershed of participant observer-oriented personal documentary. The exhibition works to recover some of the untold counter-stories that live in-between these controversial photos, by reorganizing the sequence and opening them to other interpretations that address the historical condition in which “Tulsa” was made and received.

“Our exhibition is unique in that it critically analyzes Clark’s work, who is often deemed controversial not only because of his photo book ‘Tulsa,’ but also because of his work on the movies ‘Kids,’ and ‘Teenage Lust,’” said Meranda Roberts, a Ph.D. candidate in the history department at UCR.

The photographs will not be displayed in Clark’s original sequence, and instead will be regrouped thematically. The images will be accompanied by additional works by Danny Lyon and W. Eugene Smith to suggest that Clark’s resistance to photojournalism may have been a reaction directed against the very thing he himself had become. All works included in the exhibition are part of the CMP permanent collection.

Larry Clark, Untitled, 1971, from the series “Tulsa,” 1963-71 Collection of the California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock, Copyright Larry Clark; Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

Larry Clark, Untitled, 1971, from the series “Tulsa,” 1963-71.
Copyright Larry Clark; Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

“Unruly Bodies” is the result of a fall seminar and a spring curatorial practicum led by Susan Laxton, assistant professor in the Department of the History of Art at UCR. Roberts highlights the significance of the courses, adding that “all of the students involved have learned the importance of museums to the community and have gained experience that will be of use when looking for jobs in the public sphere.”

The students curating the exhibition include Pamona Alexander, Marissa Friedman, Robin Hextrum, Rocio Medina, Daisy Ocampo, Karlyn Olvido, Meranda Roberts, and Sara Rowe. They were advised by Laxton and Joanna Szupinska-Myers, curator of exhibitions at CMP, with support from Jamison Pollock, curatorial intern at CMP. The exhibition will remain on view through Jan. 28, 2017.

UCR ARTSblock is located at 3824 and 3834 Main St., Riverside, Calif., and includes three venues: California Museum of Photography, Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, and the Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Art Gallery, which are open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., plus 6-9 p.m. for First Thursday ArtWalks. Admission is $3, which includes entry to all three venues, and is free during First Thursday ArtWalks. For film screenings, the Culver Center opens 30 minutes prior to the start time. www.artsblock.ucr.edu.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-5893
E-mail: mojgan.sherkat@ucr.edu
Twitter: mojgansherkat

Additional Contacts

Joanna Szupinska-Myers
Tel: (951) 827-4788
E-mail: joanna.szupinska@ucr.edu

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