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Richard Kern

New shots


07-11-2009   07-12-2009

Richard Kern uses the linguistic codes and structural rules of porn in his photography and films. His models seem to know the script, and they’re happy to satisfy the viewer’s desires: they consent to participate in a sort of ascending climax of excitation which starts as they give themselves up to the viewer, continues with auto-eroticism and culminates in simulation of intercourse. As in amateur porn, the most popular type, Kern works with girls who are not professionals, choosing everyday settings, made even more sober and elegant by his refined vocabulary, the way he frames his shots, the care he takes with facial expressions. The squalor of certain amateur videos is absent from his work because there is no penetration: there are no people fucking for money, just young women asking us to watch them. From black and white films in a dirty, shabby style like a sort of violent parody of “cinema verité”, Kern has gone on to a polished, elegant style of photography focusing on women and teenagers who incessantly offer themselves to the onlooker’s voyeurism, in a further reversal of the market value of the body, one of the biggest deals in today’s economy: innocent, anonymous faces motivated by the same thirst for success as mainstream models. Many people have spoken of his “girls next door”, but in actual fact this is only a cliché, a ready-made description. In a post-capitalistic age in which the body is a tool to be used for work (even in art: just look at the number of Body Art performances and actions staged since the ’70s), a young woman may legitimately dream of becoming a star by offering her naked body, showing off her most beautiful possession: her own body.
Press release (pdf)
Richard Kern

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