Aftermath and Sugar Children – Liverpool Biennial (1999)

Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art
Liverpool, UK

24 September – 7 November 1999

Aftermath and Sugar Children – the two series by Vik Muniz represented in TRACE – take the form of photographs of drawings done by the artist.

The drawings are, in turn, derived from his photographs of the original subject. The images in Aftermath contain a further layer of reference. The subjects are street children in Brazil: extremely vulnerable children with whom the artist established a relationship of trust and collaboration. In this instance he invited them to find images they identified with in books on art history, then asked them to pose in the position of the principal figure in the selected painting. This was the starting point for a lengthy series of displacements.

The reproduced drawings appear from a distance to be almost photographic in their realism, but on close inspection it becomes clear that the materials are far from conventional. For the Aftermath series Muniz collected street sweepings left over from the Carnivale in Rio and scattered them onto a light box. He has then skilfully dusted and vacuumed the material away to produce a convincing replica of his original photograph. In Sugar Children, as the title suggests, he has used sugar as his medium. In each case there is a resonance between the material and the subject matter. The process itself is also highly suggestive, particularly in Aftermath where the dust and scattered sequins lend the images a forensic quality.

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