Since emerging in the mid-1990s, the New York–based artist Piotr Uklański (born Poland, 1968) has worked with a wide variety of materials, from eye-popping collages made with pencil shavings and motley assemblages of fiber and crockery to paintings made with tie-dye or globs of brightly colored resin. This exhibition, the first to survey Uklański's photography, locates his work with the camera at the center of his artistic practice. Reveling in moribund or marginal artistic languages from a position at once ironic and sincere, the artist simultaneously subverts and pays homage to defunct modes of expression.
Uklański's underappreciated yet historically significant series The Joy of Photography (1997–2007) explores clichés of popular photography using the kitschy subjects and hackneyed effects of Eastman Kodak's how-to manual for the serious amateur. Whereas artists of the 1980s like Richard Prince appropriated such images by rephotographing them to reveal their constructed nature, Uklański remade them in a manner akin to slightly irreverent cover versions of songs that bring out hidden or repressed aspects of his source material. In this way, the artist both acknowledges appropriation's endgame—that there are no new pictures under the sun—while creating a space for the creation of new works.