Terry Richardson is a celebrity, his personality preceding his art. His art is photography, to which many will scoff, questioning if his form of expression is simply style over substance or actually something of substance. Regardless of your thoughts, his first Los Angeles solo exhibition ever (somehow!) opened this past Friday at OH WOW to a shit ton of hullaballoo–so much so that we could not even get in. Well, we stopped in earlier today and it certainly lives up to its name of TERRYWOOD.
There really isn’t that much to say about the show besides it’s all about Uncle Terry and it is his view and commentary of Hollywood, which he is very much a part of, but attempts to be somewhat removed from it in the show. It’s barely a celebration of our town because all of the photos are of the slightly slummy strip club exterior details (artfully done, of course) juxtaposed with palm trees, celebrity paraphernalia, and the tops of women’s heads, obviously recalling fellatio (one of the photos of the top of of a woman’s head definitely looks like an ass crack or a vagina: “Take your pick,” Uncle Terry begs you).
The most interesting piece is a three way tie between the fake-Academy statues made in Terry’s likeness (likely to be awarded to some large racked model), the photo collage of every star on the Walk of Fame (with Terry’s commentary by way of hand and feet signs, of course), and a cropped photo of the Hollywood sign to just say “HO” placed next to a cropped photo of what appears to be Charlotte Free or some other cotton-candy-personified model. One of the biggest pieces, which attempts some sort of heavy message or high-art in comedy, is a lightbox with a photo of photographers atop of it. It comes to life whenever you pass by it, the lights flashing and sound effects “catching you”…as if you are the celebrity. What an exciting parlor trick!
OH WOW explains in their announcement of the show that it is “inspired by the multiple facets of Hollywood life,” a life in a city that deals with the lowest of people and the highest of people as it enters into a “new identity.” I suppose it accomplishes that. Whatever the work is doing it is definitely causing people to look at it because, well, he is a celebrity: he is TERRYWOOD. And, if you don’t think he is a celebrity, why the hell was he at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday red carpet? Taking photos? I guess. He’s our answer to Andy Warhol–except a whole lot hornier.
I love Uncle Terry, I do. However, I felt a bit like Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly walking around the gallery, dryly telling an editor, “Florals for spring? Groundbreaking.” except my catchphrase was, “Implied sexualized women and celebrity detritus in relationship to Hollywood? Groundbreaking.” Thus, insert whatever progressive verb you feel Uncle Terry brings to TERRYWOOD because he isn’t explaining, analyzing, critiquing, or even celebrating Hollywood: he’s just sharing some photos loosely inspired by himself and the city.
I guess my progressive verb to explain it is “Masturbating At Hollywood From The Inside Out: TERRYWOOD At OH WOW.” I guess.