New York

View of “Paulina Olowska,” 2018. From left: Vitebsk Station, 2018; Univermag GUM, 2018; Prospekt Niezalezhnosti, 2018. Photo: Genevieve Hanson.

Paulina Olowska

Metro Pictures

Nostalgia is a dodgy gambit when it comes to contemporary art. After all, it is, in its evocation of the past, not contemporary and, in its inherent familiarity, not in and of itself art. What’s more, as with kitsch and cliché, the accompanying emotion tends toward a mawkishness that smothers exegetic impulse, leaving one to wallow in simplistic pleasures. Even its ironic deployment would seem a spent gesture, post-post-Pictures generation: Is there anything more referentially threadbare at this point than pulp fiction or dystopian sci-fi? Yet in my book, Paulina Olowska gets a pass. In bringing a conflicted, transcultural perspective on the past to bear on the present, the Polish–born and bred, American–exiled and educated artist puts nostalgia in the service of comparative stylistic and ideological analysis. For this exhibition, staged in the relatively intimate upstairs space at Metro

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