The project that would eventually come to be called Hustlers was shown at the New York MoMa back in 1993, but then the exhibition was called Strangers. Strangers was a smaller show than Hustlers which takes up 5 rooms at the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea.
diCorcia has been known to use posed pictures, as well as found object photography; Hustlers is definitely the former. During 1990-1992 diCorcia traveled to Los Angeles and picked up prostitutes paying for pictures rather than sex. Nowhere is the posed nature of the photographs more clear and interesting than in David Theodore Lane, 27 years old, Tuscon, Arizona, here a man leans back on a chair, which has been placed on the bed, laughing, perhaps because of the ridiculous situation, his arm blurred slightly as he leans his head back to laugh.
The pictures are compositionally perfect, the kind of things you would show an art student and say “Here, this is photography”. Most of the pictures are taken inside or just outside motel rooms making the scene the same, but the actors different in every shot. A red color permeated throughout; red tinted curtains hide a topless man, a young boy leans against a McDonalds sign. It was depressing, dark and hopeless.
The final room was a video installation, a center screen showed a slideshow of the works, and two large screens had words, crackling, old words from 8mm prints, projected onto them.
The exhibition was at David Zwirner gallery, and the rooms are huge, we got there early, and walking through you hear every echo, a stillness and a disconnection to the real world. The photos were placed but Zwirner and diCorcia, there was no curator to speak of. When I came back around 8 the gallery was at capacity, teeming with people and I had to sneak in to get a few words from diCorcia – who was laconic: “the pictures are red because there is a lot of red in motel rooms” “a lot of the subjects are in a doorway because you can only back up so far in a motel room”.
Review by John Hutt
Photographs by Tanya Kiseleva