What do you do for fun? – Larry Clark at Simon Lee Gallery

From the street you can see the teenage boys. Magazine perfect. But there’s more than just that. You can also see in the first collage something a bit stronger. Something that doesn’t merely hint at sex. Doesn’t merely fetishise young desire. Something that puts it right there in your face. So you walk in. Welcome to the world of Larry Clark.

Larry Clark is a name. The director of Kids, the director of Tulsa (viewable here) is a veteran of the moral outrage that is going to come out when you even imply that young people can be sexualised, brutalised beasts let alone show them looking beautiful with guns against their heads, lovely but with genitals showing and all-American but somewhat delinquent. You could probably say that Skins is a direct homage to his entire career and even that is something of a pale imitator.

This is a small exhibition but it does include 1992 – a work formed of 209 5″x4″ beautiful black and white prints. So the man-boy is faking suicide, so what? Erm … We also have pieces featuring Corey Haim and Matt Dillon – reminders of their long-ago loveliness and even within routine posterboy images a sexuality that is always present. The remaining works are mixed media that place comments and newspaper reports about teen deaths, youth culture and porn into a mixed-up and messed-up mash – decontextualised, given new import and left to the viewer to decide how comfortable or not they feel. But nothing is random and the mistake would be to feel that Clark is only working to provoke. My personal reaction: I’d like to feel I’m above it, but Clark’s work does get under your skin and even if you attempt to reject his relentlessness some part of you yields.

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