Process shot: the artist's hand and Navajo Point Diamond at the Grand Canyondigital photographPhoto: Allison Watkins; Courtesy of the artist

Corey Escoto: Sleight of Hand

Corey Escoto: Sleight of Hand
July 19–September 29, 2014
Gallery One, Carnegie Museum of Art

As part of the city-wide 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial, Carnegie Museum of Art hosts an exhibition of recent works by Corey Escoto (b. 1983, Amarillo, TX). This is the artist’s first solo museum show, and the first one-person presentation of his work in Pittsburgh, which has been his home since 2010. Escoto has exhibited nationally and internationally, working in a variety of media including painting, video, installation, and sculpture.

The exhibition at CMOA brings together several bodies of Escoto’s compelling new work, in which he uses obsolete technologies and handcrafted processes to subvert digital culture’s slick, instantaneous nature, and introduces elements of chance, humor, and human error. Escoto developed a “hacked Polaroid” process for producing images, using a camera modified to allow light-blocking stencils to sit in front of large-format instant film. The artist composes his photographs by physically masking out portions of a single light-sensitive surface to create fragments of exposed film, and then sequentially photographing everything from images on his computer screen to landscapes and architecture. Several exposures of different parts of the film yields images of geometric forms that are flat but have the illusion of depth, and which playfully meld object and image, analog and digital, space and time.

Wheels, Cracks and Cards, 2012; Fuji Color Instant Film "Polaroid"; 5" x 4" (15.5" x 12.5" framed)

Wheels, Cracks and Cards, 2012; Fuji Color Instant Film “Polaroid”;
5″ x 4″ (15.5″ x 12.5″ framed); Courtesy of the artist

The works in this installation include, and expand on, these multi-exposure “experimental Polaroids.” Escoto uses stockpiled Fuji Color FP-100c45 film, which was one of the last commercial 4 x 5 instant stocks available (it was discontinued in 2012). “I am interested in the simultaneous emergence of digital photographic technologies, the waning of analog photography, the vast archive of images available via the Internet, and the possibilities that exist for the short time that these technologies will coexist,” he writes.

Gemstone in the Sky, 2012; Fuji Color Instant Film "Polaroid"; 4" x 5" (15.5" x 12.5" framed)

Gemstone in the Sky, 2012; Fuji Color Instant Film “Polaroid”; 4″ x 5″ (15.5″ x 12.5″ framed); Courtesy of the artist

In a related group of sculptures, Escoto brings the planar forms born in the photographs into three dimensions. These objects invert the sensibility of the images on which they are based: while Escoto’s photographs evoke depth, the sculptures emphasize surface, incorporating “faux” materials that mimic the texture of marble, wood, and fabric. The sculptures are arranged in the gallery against large patterned backdrops that behave like the seamless green screens that special effects artists use to superimpose one image onto another. Wrapping onto the floor, these “set pieces,” as the artist calls them, confuse visitors’ sense of space within the gallery and radiate a sense of manufactured reality.

Carrera Marble, Tom and Kate, Subway Grate, 2014; Plexiglass, floor tile, cultured marble, Formica, wallpaper, contact paper, plywood, glue, paint, paper, carpet

Carrera Marble, Tom and Kate, Subway Grate, 2014; Plexiglass, floor tile, cultured marble, Formica, wallpaper, contact paper, plywood, glue, paint, paper, carpet; Courtesy of the artist

The two- and three-dimensional works of Corey Escoto meditate on the production and consumption of illusion, both in terms of what we accept as photographic truth and, more broadly, how we distinguish fact from fiction in an ever more manipulated, media-saturated world. By hacking the Polaroid—a commonplace and yet seemingly magical technology—Escoto reveals how readily we suspend our disbelief.

High-resolution images of Escoto’s work are available. Please the digital assets section to view images or request access.

Photography from every angle in 2014. Pittsburgh Biennial: Corey Escoto joins five other photography exhibitions and the new Hillman Photography Initiative at CMOA. Immerse yourself in the hundreds of ways that images move us. Visit for more information. 

2014 Pittsburgh Biennial
Spanning seven institutions across the city, the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial showcases new art in a wide variety of media. For more information, please visit

Carnegie Museum of Art
Curated by Amanda Donnan
July 19–September 29, 2014

Pittsburgh Glass Center
Curated by Heather McElwee
August 1–October 26, 2014

Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
Curated by Adam Welch
(PCA) August 15–November 2, 2014
(PF) August 15–October 19, 2014

Mattress Factory
Curated by Barbara Luderowski and Michael Olijnyk
September 12, 2014–May 24, 2015

The Andy Warhol Museum
Curated by Nicholas Chambers
September 26, 2014–January 4, 2015

Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
September 19–December 7, 2014

Curated by Murray Horn
September 26–November 10, 2014



“Support for the Pittsburgh Biennial has been provided by The Fine Foundation; Hillman Family Foundations; the James L. Baker Memorial Fund, the Hollen Bolmgren Fund, and the W. Alfred Turner Memorial Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation; Richard King Mellon Foundation; Highmark; and an anonymous donor.”

Support this presentation is provided by The Fellows of Carnegie Museum of Art.

General operating support for Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Carnegie Museum of Art

Carnegie Museum of Art, founded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1895, is nationally and internationally recognized for its collection of fine and decorative art from the 19th to 21st centuries. The collection also contains important holdings of Japanese and old master prints. Founded in 1896, the Carnegie International is one of the longest-running surveys of contemporary art worldwide. The Heinz Architectural Center, part of Carnegie Museum of Art, is dedicated to enhancing understanding of the built environment through its exhibitions, collections, and public programs. The Hillman Photography Initiative serves as a living laboratory for exploring the rapidly changing field of photography. For more information about Carnegie Museum of Art, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, call 412.622.3131 or visit our website at

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