While photographer Richard Kern has had an unjustly tough row gaining full acceptance in the art world, I can’t say this new show (opening tomorrow at Feature Inc) doesn’t worry me a little. The best of Kern‘s work not only presents a clear portrait of heterosexual male desire, but reveals it to be more complex than just a love for tail. Model Release for example, a collection of his photographs published by Taschen in 2000, demonstrates that the language of porn is flexible enough to capture the erotic in imperfection and individuality. A model’s underwear doesn’t fit perfectly, her breasts aren’t perky, she wears braces; all of these details prove surprisingly sexy.
Given this, it’s hard to understand the rationale for work that seems almost indestinguishable from porn — maybe the booming amatuer market has made hot imperfection seem pervasive and boring — but I’m hoping the exhibition will prove my jpg evaluations wrong. Cliche photographs like Divided Beauty (H&M) however, don’t bode well.