Ryan McGinley is synonymous with that love-it-or-hate-it 'style-mag', of the latest post-whatever generation currently representing this particular second in history right now; Vice. McGinley and his work came of age in the early Noughties; before the corporations and the jeans flingers, advertisers and band-wagon jumpers had all co-opted the scene and watered it down to death. But know here we are and mcGinley stands as the king of this scene, the holy documentor of wild-eyed children.
Representing an open-minded multi-cultural lifestyle not seen since the early heady pre-Vietnam hippy-era, McGinley pictures his many friends and associates as wild children, seemingly living a privileged life of continual excess. Sex and drugs seem to form the core of their simple, happy existence. Even the few shots of violence or menace that are occasionally meted out to these post-nascent 'lord of the flies' feral children are depicted with such wild, wild loving glee by both the receivers and the perpetrators, all captured by McGinley's adoring eye; as if the camera itself has joined in the drug-fueled activity, documenting the good-times with cheap camera and cheaper film. Technically, McGinley represents the post-digital generation in art photography; what can be seen almost as a refusal to 'go-digital' by incorporating and enveloping the aesthetic of the 'bad snapshot', the ones the photo-mats would put the little sticker onto.
Picking up at the party that Larry Clark's Tulsa was never invited to; McGinley isn't interested in documenting reality or the after-effects of the good-times; the detritus of the morning after the night before; what he represents in this new 'Vice-style' - for lack of any other kind of name - is a desire to escape the post-9/11, post-Aids culture prevalent in America today and picture the happiness while it's still happening; None of us knows how long that'll last.
Back to [Week 5: Theory & Photography]