Mr. Clark, do you still skateboard?
I retired because I hurt myself so much and it takes forever to recover, but I actually skated with some kids for about 5 minutes the other day. Took a big chance.
How difficult is it for you to take a picture of one of these skater kids who are so often the subjects of your photos? Do you have to explain who you are?
Well everybody knows Kids. So there is a calling card that I have there. It’s funny, I was at a skate park once and this fifteen year old came up to me and said, “Do you skate?” And I said, “Well I used to, but I am here with these kids and I am making a film about them. I’m a filmmaker.” He says, “Oh yeah?” And I said, “I made another film called Kids. Have you ever heard of that?” And he said, “Everybody’s heard of that!”
Why exactly are you so interested in youth culture? Because kids live for the moment?
Well I think it has more to do with the fact that I started making work when I was a teenager. I photographed my friends over a ten-year period and did the book Tulsa, which turned into visual anthropology. So you see us from the time we were teenagers up until our twenties and how everything changed and how we changed. So I guess since then I have been interested in how we grow up – different areas, different environments, different cultures, different ways that we grow up.
I think that is such an important time in our lives. Things that happen to us at that age dictate how we are going to be as adults. The way we are treated, the things that happen to us are so important in how we are formed into adults. It is a very, very important time. And I have been doing it a long time and I do it pretty good and people like the work, so what am I going to do?