Can you believe it’s been two years since Ryan McGinley’s show of solo photography, The Kids Are Alright, opened at the Whitney? Gothamist can’t.
Even so, after seeing Dash Snow’s current photography show at the Lower East Side’s Rivington Arms gallery, Gothamist was happy to see that not much has changed at all with McGinley’s subject of choice, a zany group of characters living in the Lower East Side whose seeming profession it is to delight in the delicious debaucheries of life.
The kids are still alright, and there’s still someone around to take photographs of their rock and roll antics, from the arrival of the first party guest till the last naked body falls bruised and weary to the floor.
Snow included a few found material sculptures in the exhibit, but it consists largely of the digitally enlarged prints of his Polaroid pictures that plaster the walls of the gallery. A quick glance around the cozy one-room space yields the warm pinks and light browns of naked bodies (of which there are plenty), punctuated with the occasional rusty red of dried blood (of which there is much). There are photos of crazy kids being, well, crazy kids – drinking, swimming in the ocean, getting naked, doing drugs. Readers of VICE magazine will remember the piece that magazine ran on the infamous Hamster Party, which involved filling a hotel room knee-high with shredded paper, controlled substances and a few human hamsters (one of which was Snow himself)– there are a few photos of that here too. On first impression, this is the sort of pornography Terry Richardson hopes we love to hate, predictably mixed with the sort of violence Larry Clark has made a fortune exploiting. But Snow’s images are devoid of either the irony that characterizes Richardson’s work or the cynicism of Clark’s. There is a simple beauty in Snow’s recording of a pile of filthy bodies asleep, for example, and genuine tragic-comedy to his piece “Man Missing,” a found materials sculpture made up of “leather daddy cap, casts, spiked gauntlets, bandanas, cock ring, spiked baseball bat, patent leather shoes.”
Now a ripe old 21, Snow started taking photographs at age sixteen, so the story goes, to document his highly active nightlife – most of which he apparently could not remember the morning after. In this way, Snow’s photographs helped him and his friends piece together the adventures in their own recent past. Hence the title of this exhibit: Moments Like This Never Last. If anything, Snow’s art seems to be about memory and nostalgia, which is always about longing in some sense. Every micro-generation in recent memory has had its Nan Goldin, a photographer who captures that elusive, exemplary zeitgeist of a year or week or moment, and while Snow isn’t ours (yet), his ideas have him solidly on the right track.
Moments Like This Never Last
On view through March 27th
Rivington Arms, 102 Rivington Street (between Ludlow and Essex)