Vik Muniz; From the ordinary to the extraordinary - by Hugo Ares. Published in Bold Magazine

Vik Muniz is a Brazilian visual artist who lives in New York. In his work, he explores themes related to memory, perception, illusion and the reinterpretation of iconic images from the arts mass media. Muniz began his career as a sculptor in the late 80s, but since the mid-90s, he has earned an international reputation for the photographic pieces he creates out of everyday materials, such as perforated paper, cotton, magazines, chocolate, syrup, sugar or dust. Most of the time, he recreates well-known works of art or images from popular culture, many of them by memory. A Mona Liza in jelly, The Last Super in chocolate, a portrait of Vladimir Putin in caviar, president Lula made with collage from magazines, are some of his famous creations. Through his work, Muniz recreates classic pieces with a new twist and through this process; he discovers the functional, interpretative and formal complexity of art it is extremely seductive to reproduce works of art that are part of the collective imaginary, creations that are always open to new interpretations in some occasions, he seeks fidelity, in others, he tries to show a more poetic approach or just reproduce the memory an image.


Muniz belong to a generation of artists from the 80s that see photograph as an object rather than following the traditional discourse of photography, which is to capture daily images. An art construction separated from the daily routine, similar to the work of Man Ray or Lissitsky. Muniz work sails between photograph, painting and collage. He primary brings, forward questions about the influence that the scale, the material, the content and the story behind the visitor generates in the viewer, who provides the eyes to complete any art work in the way an image is viewed and interpreted. He explores the illusion, the representation and the abstraction, as well between the idea and images.
Vik’s most recent work focuses in recreating classical masterpieces using garbage and recyclable material such as Saturn devouring his soon by Spanish artist Francisco Goya. As a contemporary artist, his intention is also to awaken an environmental awareness through art. The documentary “Waste Land” is an example of how Muniz combines filmed over nearly three years. Waste Land follows Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil to Jardim Gramacha, the world’s largest garbage dump, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There, he photographs and eclectic band of catadores-pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial purpose was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photograph images of themselves out of garbage reveals both dignity and despair as the catadores begin to re-image their lives.
Through his work, Muniz challenges our prejudices and preconceived ideas about people that live in the extremes of society. He portrays the protagonist as people with dignity and open heart of the spectator to the possibility of a transformation through courage and creativity. “The beautiful thing about garbage is that it’s negative, it’s something that you don’t use anymore, it’s what you don’t want to see. So, if you are a visual artist, it became a very interesting material to work with because it’s the most monvisual of materials. You are working with something that you usually try to hide”
Vik Muniz is an incredible Latin American artist with an extensive and prestigious international career that generates new cultural proposals leading to a thought-provoking dialogue.

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