‘Hustlers’ exhibition, David Zwirner Gallery, New York City.
Many of Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s images are heavy with atmosphere, longing, sadness and unfulfillment and this series, taken between 1990 and 1992 doesn’t disappoint! Filmic, serene and quietly powerful, this set of pictures of male prostitutes on the streets around West Hollywood look like stills from movies depicting the Hollywood reality as oppose to the dream that so few can harness.
This photographer sets them. Along with Jeff Wall and Gregory Crewdson, he choreographs slices of reality, re-enacting scenes he has witnessed but shows them as if they really happened, using real people and careful staging. These images typify the current visual language we are seeing – reportage style photographs that have been carefully art directed with great production values.
Which Image? Which Room?
diCorcia paid for the modelling services of the male prostitutes who posed for him, much the same as any client might and these are recorded in the titles of each picture – a neat, relevant way of naming and titling each image. I would choose ‘Eddie Anderson, 21 years old, Houston, Texas, $20’. The image uses consumer icons like the hamburger, take-away coffee and a jukebox juxtaposed with Eddie himself. He is piece of meat, much like the burger and the placing of his subjects amongst such consumer icons is a recurring theme throughout this series. Eddie is on the outside looking in, maybe hungry for a meal but certainly one of the ‘have-nots’ in LA. The richness of the colours is striking and the composition balanced and graphic. Some of this series is almost like Pop art photography. I suppose the kitchen would be the obvious place to hang this image, although the burger could be a tad more appetising!
One question for the Image Maker?
Your pictures are very still and serene. Is that something that you always have in mind when creating your ideas and your approach to shooting? Would you ever consider shooting more energetic ‘caught moments to convey the same ideas?’
Hustlers is currently showing at the David Zwirner Gallery, New York. All pictures courtesy of the gallery.