Vik Muniz

Born 1961 in São Paulo, Brazil
Lives and works in New York City, USA

In a labor-intensive and meticulous process, Vik Muniz reproduces images the Western viewer is familiar with from the print media, such as art masterpieces or legendary photographs from news magazines. After he has created his replicas, using a wide range of materials such as powdered pigment, dust, garbage or foods like sugar, chocolate and caviar, he photographs them and then destroys them so that they only exist as photographs. Viewed from a distance, the illusionistic effect and the resemblance of his works to the original pictures are striking. However, when seen up close the images dissolve into a chaotic array of materials, thus turning the attention of the viewer to the symbolic meaning and the formal characteristics of the substances as well as to the elaborate production process. The materials used always have a contextual link to the original images, thus adding another level of meaning. For example, he drew his early portrait series of children whose parents work on Caribbean sugar plantations with white sugar on black paper (“Sugar Children”, 1996), and his “Pictures of Dust” (2000) – reproductions of photographs documenting minimalist sculptures at the Whitney Museum of American Art – are executed in dust collected from the museum’s exhibition spaces.

Since the early 1990s Muniz has been represented on the international art stage with numerous group and solo exhibitions. In 2015 Muniz presented his public sculpture ‘Lampedusa’ at the 56th Venice Biennale. In 2001 Vik Muniz and Ernesto Neto were responsible for the Brazilian pavilion at the 49th Venice Biennale.

He has staged solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Frick Art Historical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA (2013), the Museo Banco de la República, Bogatá, Colombia (2013), the Collection Lambert, Avignon, France (2012), the CAC Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Málaga, Málaga, Spain (2012), the MAM Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil (2009), the Tokyo Wonder Site Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan (2008/2009), the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, USA (2007), the MACRO, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, Rome, Italy (2003), The Menil Collection, Houston, TX, USA (2002), and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA (2001). Vik Muniz also regularly works as a curator. Recently he curated the ninth edition of the exhibition "Artist’s Choice", staged at MoMA, New York, USA (2008/09).



EXHIBITIONS:

29.4. - 30.5.2010
“Changing The World”
Group exhibition at ARNDT, Berlin

 01.02 - 12.03. 2010
“A Long Way From Home”
Group exhibition at at Arndt & Partner, Berlin

3.04.09 – 20.06.2009
Vik Muniz
at Arndt & Partner, Zurich

29.10.08 – 17.01.2009
Vik Muniz
Solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner, Berlin
 

Vik Muniz, Venice, 2014, Postcards from Nowhere, Digital C print, 101,6 × 160,3 cm  AP 3/4 aside from an edition of 6, MUNI0159 Vik Muniz, Venice, 2014, Postcards from Nowhere, Digital C print, 101,6 × 160,3 cm AP 3/4 aside from an edition of 6, MUNI0159
Mär 10, 2014

ARNDT Berlin | Vik Muniz in viewing room I | From March 15 - April 26, 2014

Vik Muniz, Fudo Falls, Oji, after Hiroshige, 2009, From the series: Pictures of Paper (color) Digital C print, 155,7 x 101,6 cm | 61.3 x 40 in Number 8 from an edition of 10 + 5AP, # MUNI0146 Vik Muniz, Fudo Falls, Oji, after Hiroshige, 2009, From the series: Pictures of Paper (color) Digital C print, 155,7 x 101,6 cm | 61.3 x 40 in Number 8 from an edition of 10 + 5AP, # MUNI0146 Vik Muniz, Fuji from the Sea of Satta, Gulf of Suruga, Number 23, after Hiroshige, 2009, From the series: Pictures of Paper (color) Digital C print, 155,7 x 101,6 cm | 61.3 x 40 in Number 9 from an edition of 10 + 5AP, # MUNI0147 Vik Muniz, Fuji from the Sea of Satta, Gulf of Suruga, Number 23, after Hiroshige, 2009, From the series: Pictures of Paper (color) Digital C print, 155,7 x 101,6 cm | 61.3 x 40 in Number 9 from an edition of 10 + 5AP, # MUNI0147 Vik Muniz, Beethoven, from the series: Pictures of Magazine, 2006, Chromogenic print, 137,16 x 101,6 cm | 54 x 40 in & 244 x 180,34 cm | 96.06 x 71 in, # MUNI0111 Vik Muniz, Beethoven, from the series: Pictures of Magazine, 2006, Chromogenic print, 137,16 x 101,6 cm | 54 x 40 in & 244 x 180,34 cm | 96.06 x 71 in, # MUNI0111
Feb 10, 2010

"Waste Land" won the Panorama Audience Prize

Vik Muniz was born in São Paulo in 1961. He is widely regarded to be one of Brazil’s most significant contemporary artists. He makes use of all sorts of material – including food and rubbish – in order to create his large works of art; he has also often demonstrated his dedication to social issues.
In WASTE LAND Lucy Walker provides a record of one of his most elaborate projects – an installation in ‘Jardim Gramacho’, one of the largest garbage dumps in the world. The dump is located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, where the poorest of the poor live. Many of these people earn a living from.
One of them is Tiao, a charistmatic dreamer who has founded a Catadores cooperative; bookworm Zumbi, who is a real intellectual, or eighteen-yearold Suelen, who is already mother of two children and is pregnant with a third. She’s been working at the rubbish dump since she was seven years old and is proud that she has never had to work as a prostitute.
Guided by Vik Muniz, they create extraordinary work of art which involves them shaping of self-portraits in and from the rubbish. The work changes not only their view of themselves, but also their view of the world. and the alchemy of the human spirit.
Screenings of WASTE LAND in the Panorama Section:
13.02.10 International 17:00
14.02.10 CineStar 7 14:30
19.02.10 CineStar 7 22:30
21.02.10 Colosseum 1 15:30
Works from the "Pictures of Garbage" by Vik Muniz are on view through 13 March 2010 in the group show "A Long Way From Home".


 

Exhibitions

3.04. - 20.06.2009
VIK MUNIZ
Solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner, Zurich

PRESS RELEASE:

Arndt & Partner are pleased to introduce the conceptual photography of Brazilian artist Vik Muniz to a Swiss audience, following his successful first solo exhibition in Germany at Arndt & Partner's Berlin gallery.

In a labor-intensive and meticulous process, Vik Muniz reproduces images the Western viewer is familiar with from the print media, such as art masterpieces or legendary photographs from news magazines. After he has created his replicas, using a wide range of materials such as powdered pigment, dust, garbage or luxury foods like sugar, chocolate and caviar, he photographs them and then destroys them so that they only exist as photographs. Viewed from a distance, the illusionistic effect and the resemblance of his works to the original pictures are striking. However, when seen up close the images dissolve into a chaotic array of materials, thus turning the attention of the viewer to the symbolic meaning and the formal characteristics of the substances as well as to the elaborate production process. The materials used always have a contextual link to the original images, thus adding another level of meaning. For example, he drew his early portrait series of children whose parents work on Caribbean sugar plantations with white sugar on black paper (Sugar Children, 1996), and his "Pictures of Dust" (2000) - reproductions of photographs documenting minimalist sculptures at the Whitney Museum of American Art - are executed in dust collected from the museum's exhibition spaces.

His most recent series, "Pictures of Garbage" (2008), presented at Arndt & Partner, is conceived as a long-term project in collaboration with the residents of Jardim Gramacho, home to Latin America's largest garbage dump. Vik Muniz takes photographic portraits of these people who earn their living by scavenging recyclables, and with their help creates gigantic versions of the portraits, modeling them after famous paintings such as J. L. David's "The Death of Marat", J. F. Millet's "The Sower", P. Picasso's "Women Ironing" or Il Guercino's "Atlas". The material used is garbage from Jardim Gramacho, yet the figures are formed by the empty spaces between the items. Thus, the people portrayed seem to be stepping forward from the chaos of the garbage and leaving it behind them.

The series encompasses seven different images, each of which is printed in two different formats. Fifty percent of the proceeds from the sales of the larger prints is passed on to the Garbage Pickers Association of Jardim Gramacho, which was founded to support the 5,000 workers and their families whose lives are about to be dramatically affected by the imminent closure of the dump.

In his series, "Pictures of Paper" (2008), Muniz reproduces well-known black-and-white pictures by photographers such as August Sander, Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston and Hein Gorny. He uses paper cutouts in black, white, and three different shades of gray - corresponding precisely to the gray-scale values in the originals - and layers them to create a paraphrase of the original photograph. As Holger Birkholz points out, "It is a method that requires careful planning and a considerable capacity for abstraction. The original must be analyzed and transferred to an entirely different medium, in this case from a photograph to a kind of silhouette. During this transfer, the medium of the model and that of its reproduction enter into a relationship that incorporates the content of both. The medium of the silhouette is often considered a precursor to photography, as it, too, uses light to produce an image. Thus it verges on the ironic that the silhouettes so painstakingly produced by Muniz serve merely as the subject for photographs and are then destroyed. In the end, the enlarged photograph is all that remains. The photographs in "Pictures of Paper" are lit from the side so that the bas-relief-like layers of paper are clearly discernible upon closer inspection. However, when viewed from a distance it appears to be a two-dimensional medium, albeit one in which the illusion of spatial depth approaches perfection." Because Vik Muniz's photographs seduce viewers into continuously moving back and forth before them, they allow them to become aware of the corporeality of perception.
 

29.10.–20.12 2008
Vik Muniz
Solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner, Berlin

Vik Muniz, solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner, Berlin Vik Muniz, solo exhibition at Arndt & Partner, Berlin

PRESS RELEASE:
Brazilian artist Vik Muniz will be presenting his first solo show in Germany at Arndt & Partner, Berlin. We will be showing pieces from four bodies of work on both levels of the galleries at Checkpoint Charlie. There are two basic procedures that give direction to Muniz’s work. Using ephemeral or fragile materials, and applying great skill in the construction of objects and drawings, Muniz recreates images drawn from the canon of art history or from current events: he reproduces Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper out of chocolate syrup; based on a record of the exhibition, he replicates a Donald Judd sculpture with dust taken from the Whitney’s halls and galleries; and with sugar he makes copies of photographic images (made by him) of children who live near the plantations that grow his raw material. He then photographs these perishable reconstructions and throws them away, keeping only the photograph. This method of remaking and then preserving the chosen images helps bring together different times and attributes. The material recreation of the originals is done slowly, with a craftsman’s art, calling attention to the way it was made. The photographic record, on the other hand, is instantaneous. It does not require any skill and it takes place at the exact moment when the camera shutter blocks, for the artist, the vision of the image he has created. By means of this operation both complex and candid, Muniz weakens the strong connection that one would expect to exist between the photographs and the images that inspired them, turning photography into a more opaque medium, forcing the observer to take more time to define what exactly is being represented.

Muniz is not using the procedures of representation in order to attenuate the viewer’s interest in the appropriated images’ subjects. Modifying what is usually expected from photography – generally seen as merely denotative – Muniz is really inducing our gaze to distance itself, for at least a little while, from the referents described in the photographs. He is suggesting in these remade images new meanings and a distinct rhetoric. By associating the content of the chosen images with the symbolic and formal properties of the processes and materials with which he reproduces them – and then making a photographic record of this tense union – Muniz is creating and perpetuating something that formerly did not exist. Instead of dissolving the subject’s importance, the careful investigation of the reconstructed images – stimulated by the charm or strangeness that they gain through their new form – lets us see once again, even if in a manner different from how they were previously known, scenes, figures, or things that have become invisible through their excessive familiarity. In spite of the alterations or additions of meanings provoked by the mechanisms used to reproduce these images, their iconic character is preserved in Muniz’s photographs.1 The enigma of Mona Lisa’s smile or the banality of a pair of binoculars is maintained in the reconstruction of these images with peanut butter and jelly, in one case, and earth, twigs, and leaves in the other. And even if the nature of the materials used to recreate these images sometimes makes them comic or declassifies them, the often transient nature of these substances ends up affirming, by contrast, the integrity of the referents that Muniz has used. It is necessary to explain exactly what kind of illusionist Vik Muniz is. If he does not cover up his methods of construction – which can be mentally reconstituted by anyone looking at his photographs – he also doesn’t hide or disguise the origin of the images that he reproduces. An attentive viewer will identify the substances employed (whether ketchup, spaghetti, or ashes) and, to a varying degree that depends on the observer’s visual culture, he or she will also identify the original images. Without proposing new hierarchies, Muniz simply confounds old meanings with new ones and tries to express, visually, “the worst possible illusion”: that which is effective and yet at the point of breaking up.2 Contrary to all the expectations that the word’s signification authorizes, Muniz is proposing an ethics of illusion, where what is hidden in one instant becomes evident the next.

The competing effects of discomfort and identification perceived all at once when facing Vik Muniz’s photographs – testimonies to the ambiguity with which he reintroduces, for all of us, the world’s visual repertory – depend largely on the careful articulation between the appropriated icons and the methods used to reproduce them. Yet there are no set rules to create this synergistic meeting between message and medium. Sometimes, it is the images themselves, images which Muniz has become familiar with for various reasons, that indicate the most appropriate materials for their representation. Yet the greatest interest of Muniz’s work lies not in explaining the images used, nor in the appropriateness of his raw materials’ formal aspects for the facts described in the images. It is the symbolic uproar created by the approximation between the works’ referents (immediate and distant) and the materials used for their reconstruction – allied with the surprising relations of scale with which they are often put together and enlarged on photographic paper – that make these photographs an excellent platform for the emergence of what images and materials separately cannot enunciate.

Much in agreement with the ambiguous nature of Muniz’s work is perhaps the visual system of the Baroque, in assuming the opacity of the reality that it represents and the concomitant impossibility of portraying it precisely. Taking ambivalence as a value, Muniz does not try to reduce the visual experience to only one dimension, nor does he try to bring together the diversity of viewpoints that an image supports – the referent, the material in which it is presented, and its various meanings – into an impossible synthesis. Fascinated by the folds, fissures, and gaps that discredit the faculty of seeing, Muniz focuses on the disorientation of vision before that which it cannot take in ready made, and on the almost ecstatic nature of the recognition of this insufficiency. He is thus betting on an observer’s lengthy engagement with his works and on the sensuality of contemporary visual experience. Moacir dos Anjos (excerpt from the author’s essay in the book Vik Muniz: Obra incompleta / Incomplete works, Rio de Janeiro: Ministério da Cultura, Fundação Biblioteca Nacional, Safra Instituto Cultural, 2004) 1 Fernando Cocchiarale, Sobre a Poética de Vik Muniz: Matéria, Imagem e Memória, in Vik Muniz, exh. cat., Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2001. 2 Vik Muniz and Charles Ashley Stainback, Vik Muniz and Charles Ashley Stainback: A Dialogue, in Vik Muniz, Seeing Is Believing, Santa Fe: Arena Editions, 1998.

Vik Muniz born in 1961 in São Paulo. He lives and works in New York. Since the early 1990s he has been present with solo exhibitions at galleries in Brazil, the U.S., Europe and Asia, and in institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2001), the Menil Collection, Houston (2002), the MACRO – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma (2003) and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2007). In 2001 he and Ernesto Neto were responsible for the Brazilian pavilion at the 49th Venice Biennial. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions at leading museums in New York, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, as well as at the Art Institute of Chicago. Recent exhibitions include Surfaces Paradise: Vik Muniz, Thomas Ruff and Gary Carsley, Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem (2005); Inverting the Map: Latin American Art from the Tate Collection, Tate Liverpool (2005); Into Me / Out of Me, P.S.1, New York (2006) and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2007); and Defining Moments in Photography 1967–2007, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2007).

ART BASEL HONG KONG 2015 - March 15 - 17, 2015

ARNDT is pleased to announce its participation at Art Basel Hong Kong 2015, taking place from March 15 - 17. We are looking forward to welcoming you at our BOOTH Hall 3 C30.

Participating Artists: Jumaldi Alfi, Stephan Balkenhol, Jigger Cruz, Wim Delvoye, Gilbert & George, Yang Jiechang, Heinz Mack, Rudi Mantofani, Vik Muniz, Eko Nugroho, Norberto Roldan, Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo, Rodel Tapaya and Qiu Zhijie.

Please click here to see a preliminary list of the exhibited artworks

Venue:
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
1 Harbour Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

 

ARNDT Berlin
Potsdamer Strasse 96
10785 Berlin
info@arndtberlin.com

Installation View | Art Basel Hong Kong | March 15 - 17, 2015 Installation View | Art Basel Hong Kong | March 15 - 17, 2015
Installation View | Art Basel Hong Kong | March 15 - 17, 2015 Installation View | Art Basel Hong Kong | March 15 - 17, 2015
Installation View | Art Basel Hong Kong | March 15 - 17, 2015 Installation View | Art Basel Hong Kong | March 15 - 17, 2015
Installation View | Art Basel Hong Kong | March 15 - 17, 2015 Installation View | Art Basel Hong Kong | March 15 - 17, 2015