Davidson Contemporary presents Advanced Techinques of Photography, a solo exhibition of new work by Seattle-based artist Joe Rudko. Originally trained as a photographer, Rudko has not made a new photo in about three years. Instead, his work involves a combination of drawing, collage, and sculpture to produce images that include old or vintage photographs, postcards or, at times, even advertisements. The title of the show is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek reference to a textbook titled Ansel Adams Guide: Basic Techniques of Photography. Whereas the didactic book using Adams’s famed methods covers the basics for budding photographers, Rudko subverts the idea, claiming an “advanced” level which addresses non-traditional uses of old physical photographs. In this way, Rudko creates new images out of static ones, reconstructing them without digital manipulation.
Programs such as Photoshop have made photography a digital medium, calling into question the veracity of source and fact or any given shot. Here, the artist returns to a more analog, hands-on approach, using existing but anonymous photographs but cleaving them, only to then reconnect them with photographic spotting ink, interspersing images with each other, or even tearing them by hand to adjoin them according to a system. Before and after they’ve passed through Rudko’s hands, the photographs he uses are objects in and of themselves, not just images to be flicked through like a social media feed, but rather extant things with a life and meaning that is both subjective and objective. Without knowing their original source, the viewer is forced to reconcile not only with the parts of the image that are immediately identifiable, but also with the artist’s intended manipulation, combination, and reconfiguration of them.
Joe Rudko is a graduate of Western Washington University and has shown broadly in both solo and group exhibitions throughout the Northwest including PDX Contemporary Art (Portland, OR), Roq La Rue (Seattle, WA), LxWxH (Seattle, WA), Photo Center Northwest (Seattle, WA), Whatcom Museum of Art (Bellingham, WA), and Greg Kucera Gallery (Seattle, WA), as well as Von Lintel Gallery (Los Angeles, CA). He has been the recipient of the Future List Award and two Art Walk Awards from City Arts Magazine as well as the Vermont Studio Center Fellowship Award. His work was featured on the cover of indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie’s 2015 album Kintsugi and is included in the collections of the Portland Art Museum, Fidelity Investments, and the private collections of Dorothy Lemelson, James and Susan Winkler, and Driek Zirinsky. Rudko lives and works in Seattle, WA. This is his first solo exhibition with Davidson Contemporary.