ADAM – COVER AND PAGES FROM OUT OF ORDER MAGAZINE #2 – OUT NOW. Pickup copies of the issue at Opening Ceremony + Fivestory in NYC and Colette in Paris, as well as all major magazine newsstands.
Set in the art-meets-Americana town of Marfa, Texas, Marfa Girl features a breakout performance from Adam Mediano, a teenage kid (and non-professional actor) whom Clark spotted skateboarding one day. The charisma that Clark saw in Adam inspired the shooting of the film. The portraits that follow are the first ones that Clark ever took of Adam and the first digital photographs that he has produced.
- DORIAN GRINSPAN
Christopher Wool invited me down to Marfa — he was advising this first-year tiny little film festival — and he wanted to show No Wave films of the ’70s from New York. So I went down and I showed this film from Tulsa that I had shot in ’68. Another night I showed Ken Park, and then another night during the festival I showed Wassup Rockers, and Wassup Rockers is about these 14-year-old skate kids from the ghetto in LA, from South Central, these Latino kids.
So I’m getting ready to introduce the film, and I look at the crowd, and it’s all this older art crowd and not many locals. So I went outside trying to figure out what I was going to do, because the film is about kids, and it’s for these kids — and like a mirage, these two little fourteen-year-old kids skate by, Hispanic skate kids.
I thought, “Wow, this is some kind of sign.” So I ran into the street and I grabbed them, and I said, “Come, I’m showing a film, and it’s about you.” So they came inside, and they could only stay a few minutes; they had to go home for supper but they came back an hour into the film asking me for DVDs. And I had two DVDs of Wassup Rockers with me that I gave them.
Then as I was getting on the airplane to leave, and I saw this couple, and I told them, “You know, it’s a funny thing, I met these skate kids just as I was introducing Wassup Rockers.” And they said, “Oh we know Adam, he’s fourteen and he’s got a girlfriend who’s twenty-eight, and they’re going to have a baby.” And I said “They’re gonna have a baby? Well, what do the parents think about this?” And they said, “Well, the parents are fine with it.” I thought to myself, Jesus Christ, this is strange. So right away I smelled a script.
I left and I started thinking about this and I started writing the screenplay. I went back to Marfa a couple of months later because someone had asked me to photograph a place in America, and I said, “Well fuck, I’ll go back to Marfa.” I looked up Adam, but it turns out it was not a true story at all. He didn’t have a twenty-eight-year-old girlfriend, and no one was pregnant. It was not true at all, but I found out a lot about the town and I photographed Adam there for the first time.
There was this place outside of town, where there’s natural spring water coming out of the ground, and there’s an Olympic-sized swimming pool that someone built there. And people go out there, and have picnics, and go swimming. So we went out there — Adam, and, like, twelve people; Adam’s mother, and his brother, and his brother’s girlfriend and all these people went out. I photographed Adam out there and observed the town for a few days and what was going on.
Marfa is just this little town. It’s white ranchers, cowboys, and Mexican-Americans. It’s very strange because the town is in the middle of nowhere, there’s no economy, and it’s kind of like stuck in the ’50s. They still have corporal punishment in school, so they paddle kids from kindergarten all the way to high school. And there’s still a segregated cemetery there. Half the cemetery is for white people and half the cemetery is for the Hispanics. The white half of the cemetery is very stern, and the Mexican half is full of colors, pictures, and fiowers. It’s pretty great. I’d much rather be buried on the Mexican side.
Anyway, I think what’s interesting for me is to look at these first pictures of Adam and just see that from him skating down the street the first night, I saw something there. I said, this kid, you know, he had this charisma. I saw it. It was just coming from him, and no one else could see it, I don’t think. Maybe his mother could see it, but I could see that the camera was gonna love him, and he was really the inspiration for me during the film.
I would observe him with his friends, and his friends acted like teenagers, you know, kind of laughing and joking and goofing around. And he can be like that, too, but he was much more quiet, and introspective even. There was an intelligence there that I saw, and when he said something, it was very smart, and I could see he was an extremely intelligent kid. Just by the way he looked, I could tell. I’ve been making images for fifty years, so I can tell and I don’t know — I could just, it’s just — I saw it.