2013 Winners - Runner-up: Corey Escoto
Corey Escoto’s Experiments with Polaroids series is an intimate engagement with the photographic process. Using 4-by-5-inch Polaroid film and a complex technique employing in-camera stencils and multiple exposures, Escoto constructs minimalist geometries that rest upon soft gradients of color. Although these photographs beg an explanation of their making, their abstract compositions also instruct us in primal lessons of representation. How do we perceive an object upon its ground? How is a photographic image valued in an age of digital replication and haute consumerism? What is the meaning of the experience of art?
In House of Cards, 2012, a three-tiered house of cards appears to be floating upon a vertical gradient rising from light to dark. Upon closer examination the illusion gives way to a flattened arrangement of triangles and parallelograms derived from the standard 4-by-5-inch aspect ratio. These shard-like pieces are fragments of photographs, cut from the view-camera’s plane of focus by in-camera light-blocking stencils. Crucially, Escoto constructs his compositions; by delicately amassing measured doses of light, he complicates the photographic collapsing of time between the pressing of the shutter and the viewing of the print. Instead of a single frame, the house of cards is the result of a time-intensive photographic process. The intense technical specificity of the composition, coupled with the house-of-cards’ playful absurdity, evokes the continually repetitive reconstitution of both culture and civilization. The work reminds viewers that only by trial and error, test and experiment, do we advance our ideas.
Fundamental to Experiments with Polaroids is the lack of negative, plate, or digital file; Escoto’s artworks exist as unique amalgamations of chemistry, paper, and light. They hint at photo-representation and yearn for the view-camera’s realism, but they also assert the impossibility of the photographic act ever producing anything but a subjective selection. Each work is its only copy, and, while they depict objects and architecture as conceptual phenomena within a color field or void, the Polaroids themselves also exist within a sort of void. They rest alone, singularly, alongside all the digital simulacra that envelop photography today.
Corey Escoto was born in 1983 in Amarillo, Texas, and currently resides in Pittsburgh. He received a BFA from Texas Tech University and an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis. Escoto was one of three artists selected to participate in the Great Rivers Biennial (2008) at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and is a recipient of the Gateway Foundation Grant. Escoto’s work was featured in the traveling exhibition New American Talent 23 (2008) as well as the Texas Biennial (2007), and has been included in numerous international exhibitions including Le Souvenir, ACC Galerie, Weimar, Germany; Seven Days Brunch, Basel; DeCollecting, FRAC Nord-Pas De Calais, Dunkerque, France; and at Regina Rex, Queens, New York.