Since August 2003, the Kunsthalle Basel is undergoing a major renovation. The new exhibition programme under the direction of Adam Szymczyk will be inaugurated on June 16th 2004 with the opening of the first one-person museum exhibition of Piotr Uklanski.
A Polish artist, Uklanski emerged on the New York art scene in the mid-90s with an emblematic work, the Dance Floor—a sculpture that integrates the legacy of minimalism with the blurring of art and entertainment that characterizes the current era. Dividing his time between New York, Warsaw and Paris, Uklanski has constructed a diverse body of work that exploits as many types of media (sculpture, photography, collage, performance, and film) as it promiscuously absorbs cultural references. His work has been internationally exhibited in various contexts including the 2003 Venice Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Ludwig Museum (Cologne), and Manifesta. Uklanski’s work often draws polemical reactions since the artist does not shy away from potentially controversial subjects—such as his photographic series The Nazis or his precarious performance engaging a professional stuntman The Full Burn.
The exhibition at the Kunsthalle Basel will assemble for the first time a variety of works, including his lesser-known series such as The Joy of Photography, his torn paper collages, crayon shaving “paintings”, portraits, and sculptures. The show will take place over the entire two floors of the newly renovated Kunsthalle and will include two special commissions for the Oberlichtsaal and the exterior of the building.
The striking formal and material diversity of Uklanski’s work will be made apparent in this exhibition as well as his overarching interest in exploitative, spectacular and banal cultural forms. While Uklanski’s tendency to be “all over the map”, to cross genres and to corrupt the truth of material might be read as a gratuitous, it is in fact a means of resistance. This strategy allows Uklanski to engage with art/entertainment, high/low without resorting to customary hierarchies or consensual value judgements and without being pigeonholed as a cultural producer.