Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pornography or Art?

Police have visited an exhibition of works by the late Irish photographer Bob Carlos Clarke at London’s Little Black Galleryafter the explicit sexual images on display provoked complaints from local residents. Police inspector Sean Flynn visited the gallery on Chelsea’s Park Walk after resident lodged a formal complaint to Kensington and Chelsea council, claiming that the images in the gallery’s windows were pornographic. The works will be on show until 5 June.

After inspecting the two works in question, Flynn said: “My assessment is that Whip Girl [2000] is acceptable, but I have some concerns about Tite Street [1990]. [It] appears to show a man having rear entry sex with a woman who is bent double and not wearing any knickers. Of course, this is not the appropriate place to have a debate about art versus pornography. It is my assessment that Tite Street should not be able to be clearly viewed from the street.”

Staying up: Bob Carlos Clarke's Tite Street, 1990 (c) The Estate of Bob Carlos Clarke

Staying up: Bob Carlos Clarke's Tite Street, 1990 (c) The Estate of Bob Carlos Clarke

The Little Black Gallery is not the only establishment currently displaying Carlos Clarke’s work. Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White owns the largest single collection of the controversial photographer’s work, and more than 30 of his large-scale images are prominently displayed in the chef’s restaurant Wheeler’s of St James’s. The explicit subject matter of the works has received a far more welcome reception here than in formerly bohemian Chelsea. Hostess Bea Jarrett told The Art Newspaper that not a single complaint about the photographs has been received in the two years since they have been on display. “I guess that says a lot about our clientele too,” she added.
Read the article in the Art Newspaper here.