image courtesy Team Gallery, New York.
wordsby leah turner
Disaffected youth have long served as muse for artists and savvy marketers alike. Whether invoked via opportunism, idealism or nostalgia, youth culture and all its discontents never fail to seduce. This mode has held particular resonance for contemporary photographers, a lineage that could be traced back to Larry Clark’s Tulsa (1971) a photobook depicting gritty scenes of teenage sex, violence, and amphetamine use. (Clark has since made his career documenting and reflecting counter-culture and teenage transgression, notably with the films Kids and Wassup Rockers.) Known for adopting a raw, semi-autobiographical snapshot aesthetic (alongside others such as Nan Goldin and Ryan McGinley), photographer Terry Richardson’s orgiastic, titillating portraits have now become one of fashion’s most instantly recognizable tropes – take American Apparel’s print ads for instance, which ostensibly present the promise of sexual freedom alongside cheap cotton t-shirts.