Piotr Uklański: “Fatal Attraction”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Joyce and Robert Menschel Hall for Modern Photography / Gallery 851
1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
New York, NY 10028
March 17th – August 16th, 2015
The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents “Fatal Attraction: Piotr Uklański Photographs,” the pioneering survey of multi-media Polish artist Piotr Uklański’s photography. Drawing from various mediums including installation, fiber art, and collage in order to imbue old styles with a variety of new meanings, Uklański (born 1968) similarly explores clichéd or obsolete photographic languages.
Nearly half of the survey works originate from The Joy of Photography (1997-2007), the artist’s seminal yet under-known series, in which he adopted the hackneyed subjects and styles of Eastman Kodak’s 1979 how-to book for amateur photographers to create a rapturous ode to the medium, both ironic and sincere.
Uklański, who was born in Poland in 1968 and moved to the US just after the fall of Communism, found in Kodak’s didactic tome a ready-made compendium of American mass cultural taste and aspirations to which he enthusiastically submitted his photographs. Pitch-perfect mimicries of stock photography such as Untitled (Waterfall) from 2001 are important early examples of what would come to be known as “post-appropriation” in contemporary photography, and provide witty commentary—from a European perspective—on how Americans approach even their moments of pleasure as forms of work and self-improvement.
Uklański’s abiding interest in craft and process will also be highlighted with the inclusion of a major 2013 work, his monumental fiber art sculpture Untitled (Story of the Eye), made from dyed rope, fiber, macramé, and embroidery.
“Fatal Attraction” refers to the artist’s complication of Freud’s dichotomous Eros (life force) and Thanatos (death drive) concepts with his location of death in beauty and commentary on the perverse pull of the repellent.