library

The Unbearable Likeness of Being

by Vik Muniz Hokusai tried to paint without the use of his hands. It is said that one day, having unrolled his scroll in front of the shogun, he poured over it a pot of blue paint then, dipping the claws of a rooster in a pot of red paint, he made the bird run across the scroll and leave its tracks on it. Everyone present recognized in them the waters of the stream called Tatsouta carrying along maple leaves reddened by autumn.” (Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art) One…

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Surface Tension

by Vik Muniz In a dark corner of the church of Santa Cecilia in São Paulo lies the mesmerizing image of the child-saint Santa Donata. Her prostrate position combined with the uncanny anatomical veracity and naturalistic coloring with which she is rendered gives visitors the charged sensation of watching someone sleep. The priest of this parish once confided to my grandmother that every two or three years, they had to open the glass casket in which the image rests, to trim her hair and fingernails because they had not stopped growing since…

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Mirrors or ‘How to Steal a Masterpiece’

by Vik Muniz A Sunday afternoon in the Louvre — I could not pick a worse day to visit a museum. Wandering in, unable to decide what to see, I’m dragged by the thick flux of tourists to the Denon wing: The place where the Mona Lisa hangs. In the ample room, an endless line is formed by those who, for a second or two, will share a moment of partial intimacy with the famous painting. Nearly everyone in the room carries a camera. Some don’t even get to see the work…

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Making it Real

by Vik Muniz Life itself is not the reality. We are the ones who put life into stones and pebbles. Frederick Sommer The Good Picture “Smile!” commanded the despotic man in the burgundy jacket. We obeyed immediately, only to be rewarded by the blinding light of a flash. At the age of four, I didn’t question why I should smile without being happy. Apparently, neither did my parents. Smiling for a camera seems to be imbedded in the genetic coding: even the blind do it. Looking at the impromptu portrait from Sears…

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The I by Vik Muniz

The end of the art-object articulated as an object coincides with the reign of objects of values. The individualized and individualizing object, when submitted to a process of patterned repetition in an endless series, is entirely dependent on factors which are of a technical and sensorial order, inscribed into the social, intellectual and material characteristics of a society. The object will always be a distinct element in the context of the real, and the regression of the object to thing acting as an indistinct condition reduces space to the notion of ambient….

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Selected Publications by and about Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz: The Weimar File Ivorypress, 2013 ISBN 9788494053580 Idea Code 13391 240 pages, illustrations in b&w, 11 x 15 cm, English/Spanish Vik Muniz Cac Malaga [Hardcover] Publication Date: November 14, 2012 The catalogue for a photography exhibition presented by the Contemporary Art Centre in Malaga featuring over 100 works of art by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, this weighty volume documents the spectrum of materials the artist employs to create works that are both reproductions of famous artworks and stand-alone masterpieces. Optical illusions combine with reality in order to play surprising visual…

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SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abreu, Gilberto de. “Em Busca da Visibilidade”, Jornal do Brasil, Brazil. March 23, 2001. Aguilar, Nelson. Brazilian Art in the 90′s. Rediscovery Exhibition: Contemporary Art Exhibition Catalogue, 2000. Albin, Michael, Ed. Collection in Context: Selected contemporary photographs of hands from the collection of Henry Mendelssohn Buhl. Thread Waxing Space. New York, NY. 1996. Allen, Kathleen. “Muniz’s Photos Blur Artistic Reality” Vision, June 24, 1999. Alleti, Vince. “Constructed Illusions.” The Village Voice, Nov. 20, 1990. —. “Choices.” The Village Voice, March 21, 1995. —. “Choices.” The Village Voice, Dec. 3, 1996. —. “Organized…

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Interview between Maria Zagala, Curator, and Vik Muniz for the exhibition Imaginary Prisons

(c) National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne In an email interview with Maria Zagala on 22 January 2007, Vik Muniz expanded on his interest in Piranesi’s Imaginary prisons and his working method. MZ: Over the past decade you have made a number of series based on the art of past masters including Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet, Redon, Matisse and, of course, Piranesi. You reconstruct their works by using radically different media such as chocolate, dust gathered from the Whitney’s offices and galleries, cuttings of reproductions of paintings by Van Gogh and Monet…

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Vik Muniz and Charles Ashley Stainback: A Dialogue

Published in the catalogue Seeing is Believing Arena Editions Verona, 1998 Charles Stainback: When did you start using photography? Let me rephrase that. When did you realize the power the photographic image could have in your work? Vik Muniz: Even though I have always been involved with photographic images, for a long time I was reluctant to make photographs myself. I guess I made a decision to stop producing images and concentrate on making real things right after I gave up a career in advertising. I became a sculptor so that I…

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An Interview with Vik Muniz

By Linda Benedict-Jones LBJ: This is the first Artist-in-Residence Program at the Frick Art: Historical Center. It was inspired by the program at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The Frick has asked you to wrap your creativity around something on their site, and it seems that you are most interested in Clayton, Henry Clay Frick’s historic home. The Frick is known for 19th-century work so the mere fact that they are doing a project with a 21st-century artist is really quite incredible. VM: It’s interesting that you mention I’m a…

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Natura Pictrix

Peter Galassi and Vik Muniz Peter Galassi: I think it might be useful for people to know a little bit about what you did before you started making the work for which you have become known. Vik Muniz: It would be easier to start listing things I didn’t do before turning to art. Even though I have drawn compulsively since I was a child, it never occurred to me to become an artist. When you are born in Brazil in a working class family, you think of things like being a doctor,…

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Mrs. de Menil’s Liquor Closet and Other Stories

Copyright 2001 Menil Foundation, Inc. Vik Muniz and Matthew Drutt Matthew Drutt: What did you imagine The Menil Collection to be like before you came here for the first time in August, and how did your impressions change afterward, if at all? Vik Muniz: This project has evolved from the particular situation of imagining something before it’s a reality in front of your eyes. I had seen The Menil Collection in tiny pictures in books and magazines, and I had seen the paintings in the collection in the same minute format. When…

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Interview with Vik Muniz and Danilo Eccher, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome, August 2003.

This interview is published in the catalogue that accompanies Vik Muniz solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome, It. September 2003 / January 2004 DE: The language of photography has assumed an important role in artistic pursuit in recent decades, from the more traditional level of documentation it has gradually asserted itself as a full bodied mechanism of expression, that’s to say it has demanded a direct protagonism without any necessary reference. Photography, sustained by radical technological innovation and a consequent freedom of expression, has effectively moved the centre of…

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Vik Muniz by Mark Magill

Interview in Bomb Magazine n.73, Fall 2000 Vik Muniz might be billed as a photographer, and photographs are generally the end product of his work. But in another age he might have been an alchemist, transforming base lead into refined gold. In Vik’s case, lead has been replaced by light. He is clearly a visual artist who tinkers equally with light and the mechanisms of perception that decipher the messages light conveys. He tricks the eye to reveal the tricks the eye itself can play and how that trickery has been used…

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The Commutability of Traces

by Thomas Zummer “. . . mi ritrovai per una selva oscura . . . ” -Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Canto 1 At the very beginning, indeed within the first few lines, Dante’s narrator ‘finds himself’-mi ritrovai-in a ‘dark wood,’ in an allegory conventionally taken as ‘error’ or ‘sin,’ though it may also refer to that ‘ancient forest, deep dwelling of beasts’ near the mouth of Hades found in the Aeneid(1). It is also quite likely that there is reference to the Platonic idea of matter, silva in the Latin translation of the…

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String, Space and Surface in the Photography of Vik Muniz by Sandra Plummer

Abstract This article examines three  series of works by the artist  Vik Muniz— Pictures of Thread,  Piranesi Prisons and Pictures of  Wire. These works employ a string-like  material to convey pictorial  space. The “string” is utilized in  different ways: to create a type of  landscape tapestry, as a drawing  constructed through “string art”  techniques, and to make sculptural  drawings. The use of string  provides a three-dimensional  element to the work, yet this  apparent three-dimensionality jars  with the presentation of the work  as photographs of the original  drawings. This article proposes an  analysis…

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Muniz and the Contemporary Envelope

by Demetrio Paparoni Let’s begin by saying that Vik Muniz considers art to be a tool for scientific knowledge. It might be said that for artists this is nothing new, that it has been like this since the fifteenth century, since the study of perspective married the work of art to mathematics and geometry. It is since then that, because landscape was a perspectival breakthrough, the viewer can look at the painting as though through a window. And from the fifteenth century onwards art has never stopped being a tool for scientific…

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(Français) Vik Muniz

Erotica Salvatrix Catherine Millet Inutile de le nier : lorsque l’on entre dans la salle d’exposition où sont accrochées les Ïuvres de la série Erotica (2001), aussi averti que l’on soit, on en prend plein la figure. Cibachromes et C-prints d’un mètre soixante à plus de deux mètres cinquante de côté présentent en gros plan des fesses, des seins ainsi que des verges pénétrant des vulves selon à peu près tous les angles de vue. On supporte le choc, d’abord, justement, à cause de la dimension de ces images que Vik Muniz…

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METAPHYSICAL GAMES?

by Olivier Kaeppelin Translated from the French by Brian Holmes Can one bring a dead figure back to life? Is the essence of art not to transform inert things into living forms – long-lasting forms? In the face of an exaggerated taste for objects and their assemblages, for anecdotal, autarkic life-sequences, all quickly exhausted, yet composing an important part of today’s art, Vik Muniz proposes something quite different : a precise conceptual position that accords little worth to the seductions of reality. He takes an ironic stance toward “object-works,” illustrational shortcuts, to…

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Vik Muniz: The Wrong Logician; Or, Cats and Dogs Fighting Like Clouds

Equivalence as Critical Aporia in the Work of Vik Muniz Socrates: What are they then? Strepsiades: I don’t rightly know; spread fleeces, perhaps Socrates: I’ll put you a question. Strepsiades: Quick, let’s have it. Socrates: Have you never noticed a cloud resembling a centaur, a leopard, a wolf, a bull? Strepsiades: Of course, so what? Socrates: They turn into what they like. Aristophanes, Clouds, 423 B.C. I It is one thing to take photographs of clouds. Gustave Le Gray, Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston were among the many to do so. And,…

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The Most Interesting Thing that Can be Done With Representation

by James Elkins What is the most interesting thing that can be done with representation? The best way to begin answering that question, which is (or should be) of pressing interest to visual artists working in a variety of media, is to list some ideas that were once thought to be the most interesting things about representation: 1. It is no longer interesting that photography means “painting is dead” (Paul Delaroche’s opinion, although he kept painting). If painting is dead, it is so in a far more curious fashion than anything photography…

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Early Objects

by Joshua Decter “The poetic or the ecstatic is that in every disclosure which can open itself up to the absolute loss of its sense, to the (non-) base of the sacred, of nonmeaning, of un-knowledge or of play to the swoon from which it is reawakened by throw of the dice.” Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference “By subtle subversion I mean, on the contrary, what is not directly concerned with destruction evades the paradigm, and seeks some other term: a third term, which is not , however , a synthesizing term…

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Pictures in Clouds

by Kirby Gookin Sometimes we see a cloud that’s dragonish; A vapour sometime like a bear or lion, A tower’d citadel, a pendent rock, A forked mountain, or blue promontory With trees upon’t, that nod unto the world, And mock our eyes with air. Shakespeare, “Antony and Cleopatra”, (IV, xii, 2-7) Vik Muniz is an illusionist. Better yet, Vik Muniz is a picture tease. Like the transmutations of a quick-change artist, what you see is not always what you get. However, Muniz’s sleight of hand doesn’t trick the eye with mirrors, but…

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A Twisted Kind of Realist

by Tonica Chagas* In his two new series, “Pictures of Magazines” and “Monadic Works,” Vik Muniz again plays with human visual perception to show that”a picture can be neither what is on a wall nor what is in our brain; it can be rather what is in between the two.” “Pictures of Magazines” aims to deal with physiognomic recognition through media on many levels and discloses some of the artist’s feelings about the new profile of Brazil, his native country. In “Monadic Works,” as if translating the theory of the mathematician and…

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Seeing Is Disbelief

by Dan Cameron If nobody ever saw what everyone remembers, what exactly are those memories made of? Vik Muniz, interview with Charles Stainback, 2001 For most of the first century following its invention, one of photography’s main goals was to persuade its viewer that it was faithfully recording reality. A primarily chemical process for registering rhe effects of light on chemically treated surfaces, and then relaying those effects to a second surface, and finally a third, photography was invariably viewed as a kind of objectifying medium, one that could only produce effects…

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An Ethics of Illusion

by Moacir dos Anjos In the book Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges tells the literary accomplishments of a certain Pierre Menard, a writer from Nîmes whose work supposedly dates from the first third of the twentieth century. Ignored by his contemporaries, this writer accomplished a heroic and unique feat: he wrote the ninth and thirty-eighth chaptersÑas well as a fragment of chapter twenty-twoÑof the first part of Don Quixote, making his chapters match, “word for word and line for line,” those written by Miguel de Cervantes. Neither a charlatan nor a madman, Menard…

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Vik Muniz: Illusionism Beyond Specular Appearance

by Aracy Amaral I take great joy in greeting a fine artist, a creative Brazilian artist who is presenting his work for the first time in a museum of his hometown, São Paulo. In fact, a unique artist outside the mainstream and the exhausting platitudes we see in most art shows or countless catalog-invitations, which apparently ignore, to a great extent, the art production of the sixties, seventies, eighties, and nineties. Singularity appears to be an impossibility in our time, a critical situation that currently involves artists and art itself. Notwithstanding, Vik…

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Siro Darlan: Lixo Extraordinário

Rio – The artist Vik Muniz made us reflect deeply by showing us how to turn lemons into lemonade.  After being shot in the leg, Vik was compensated for the misfortune by his assailant, which he then used to try his luck in the US.  There he sought to make a living with what was possible. Working as a janitor for a mall parking lot, Vik discovered the value of trash and dedicated himself to making art out of recycled material.  He then ended up becoming one of the most recognized artists…

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