October 11th – November 12th, 2006
“Kern does porn, art, and also fashion photography, sometimes all in one shooting day, but it’s not in this cross-over potential that the singularity of Kern’s work resides, it’s in the way he strips this multi-tasking down to its hollow core and in how he elaborates his peculiar distance from the labour he performs whenever he picks up a camera and aims it at a posing model. […] Kern doesn’t pretend that image culture is a non-stop party […] Kern exposes the economics and the artifice of every situation.”
John Kelsey, Artforum, January 2005
For his first solo exhibition at HOTEL Richard Kern presents a series of unique photographs of models, posing in their underwear, and exhibited in frames that display the original panties stitched into an adjoining mount. Partly an extension of the idea of a unique print –the icon’s artefact displayed in the same frame as the ‘proof’ of their wearing it- and partly intimation towards the popular practice of buying used panties as titillation object it is also an odd extension of the increasing personalisation of pornography.
Richard Kern is both controversial and hugely respected as a photographer and film-maker operating at the boundaries of the art world, the music scene and the sex industry. His fascination for the aesthetics and problematics of voyeurism and pornography, and his willingness to play a part in these industries has given him a significantly active perspective on this area of image-making, and the key to many of his photographs is his subversion of the 'rules' of pornography. Born in North Carolina in 1954, he has lived and worked in New York City since 1979, where he was drawn to a particular downtown scene. In the eighties, he produced a series of extreme short films that now are recognized as the central works of the 'Cinema of Transgression'. Films featuring Nick Zedd, Lydia Lunch, Sonic Youth, David Wojnarowitcz, Audrey Rose and Clint Ruin depicted characters shooting up, piercing and cutting themselves, or performing violence towards each other, over harsh soundtracks produced by Jim Thirlwell. Since the 1990s he has concentrated solely on photography, making subtly subversive and seductive photographs of young female models posing in a variety of ordinary environments, and often engaged in routines such as hair-drying, squeezing spots or using eye-drops. These images have been published in key books such as 'New York Girls' and 'Model Release', alongside more explicit sexual posing. Kern occasionally directs music videos for bands like Sonic Youth and Marilyn Manson. He is a regular contributor to a variety of international publications. (Penny Martin, 2005)