Larry, Merce and Alex

Sunday, February 9th, 2003 | Art, Friends, Performance

This week I saw an incredible show by Larry Sultan, my former teacher, at Stephen Wirtz.  Larry’s known for a very sensitive and intimate body of work in which he photographed his aging parents in their affluent suburban retirement.  His recent work consists of large-scale photos taken on porn sets, also in suburban southern California.  Unlike Ken Probst, whose images of gay porn sets include both the central action and the peripheral activity of cameramen, lighting guys, etc…, Larry focuses soley on the activity surrounding the shoot.  Occasionally you’ll see a leg sticking in the air, or a tumble of indistinguishable body parts half-seen through a rose bush.  My favorite image is almost like a Cartier-Bresson in its capture of the decisive moment.  A woman in a slightly-parted loose-fitting robe revealing a bare leg and enormous high heel strolls off a set,3 dogs groveling at her feet.  The form of each dog mimics the curve of her heel, their asses high in the air, simultaneously begging and offering.

Last night I and Alex saw the Merce Cunningham Dance Troupe at Zellerbach.  One piece, How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run, from 1965, was accompanied by a composition by John Cage consisting of two voices, Merce Cunnigham and David Vaughan, reading short very droll pieces about domestic life, at alternating speeds.  At times, one story was very clearly heard, at other times, the words blended together into just sounds.  While it was great to see and hear an icon of 20th century art, the first piece, though, Pictures, was pure magic, with various groups of dancers alternately moving around each other and then freezing into very sculptural tableaux.

Alex and I rode in the last car of the last BART train, but were unlucky in securing any company other than ourselves for the ride back to the city.

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