Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Photographic Inspiration #1 Philip-Lorca diCorcia

Whilst I'm aware that all I'm really doing with photography at the moment is learning the basics and none of the pictures I take are anything other than technical explorations, at some point or another I'd like to start shooting things and creating images that I find visually interesting. This is the first in what will hopefully be an ongoing series of posts examining photographers who have influenced my aesthetic. I did do a degree in Fine Art a few years ago and whilst most of my time was spent either printmaking or creating huge text works, I always used photographers as inspiration.

In 2006 whilst I was on my Art Foundation course we went on a trip to the V&A. I can't remember what the purpose of the visit was, all I really remember is one exhibition. It was called 'Twilight' (review here) and it was the first time I'd ever really experienced artwork viscerally. The show entirely blew me away. I'd say artistically it's been influencing me ever since. In another part of my life I am a performance poet and visually it also informed my writing. I cannot over state its importance to me.

There were a couple of standout photographers in the show who I want to feature here and the first to spring to mind was Philip-Lorca diCorcia. The works on show were from Hustlers, his series of portraits of young men working on the streets in Los Angeles during the height of the AIDS crisis. The photographs of these men were meticulously staged and lit before diCorcia found his subjects by cruising and propositioning the hustlers in the area. He would then place them into the shot and pay them their going rate for the time. Titled just with their name, age, place they came from and amount they usually charge for services, these photographs are both real and unreal. The men are there but it is not how they would normally appear. The staging gives diCorcia a chance to express their frailty and sadness but to make it beautiful and the titles remind us that despite the fictional settings, these men are real people.

 Mike Miller, 24 years old, Allentown, Pennsylvania, $25 (I've actually written a poem about this photograph.)
 Ralph Smith, 21 years old, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, $25
Eddie Anderson, 21 years old, Houston, Texas, $20

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