art... Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz
Artist's Talk for "Pictures of People"
31 Jan. - 15 April

Self Portrait (Fall No 2), 2005

Marlene Dietrich (Diamond Divas), 2004

Creature from the Black Lagoon (Caviar Monsters), 2004

Bloody Marilyn, 2001

Double Elvis (Pictures of Chocolate), 1999

For this recent show at the BALTIC, Muniz' work has been organised under the category of portraiture; an interesting art-historical claim to be sure. More than play with notions of the portrait, Muniz offers visitors a fun and accessible entry point into the contemporary discipline of visual studies. As a photographer, he remains quite conscious of the visual dilemma of our present culture. In a word, we suffer from saturation, a drowning in the sea of visual stimuli. Under such a burden, it seems the visual image has come to have less and less effect upon its intended target. For his work, Muniz has selected both those tired images of pop culture cliché and the touchstone monuments of art history in order to re-examine the way we interact with the visual image through a curious exploration of unorthodox materials. Freely playing with both scale and perspective in his compositions, he has utilised a host of materials ranging from toys, junk, food, dust, thread and even raw paint pigments. Muniz presents the quizzical masses with quite an eyeful; the question remains, however, can we be helped to actually see what we looking at back in the real world?

Find out more about the artist and view his work here.

books... Art and Theology Sources

for Kevin Figgins...

1. Introduction:
Jeremy Begbie, Beholding the Glory: Incarnation through the Arts. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001.

Here, Begbie and colleagues discuss various high and popular art forms and the ways in which they might serve a theological end. It is a helpful entry point for thinking about the intersection of art and theology.

2. Cultural Context:
George Steiner, Real Presences: Is there anything in what we say? London: Faber, 1989.

“Where God clings to our culture, to our routines of discourse, He is a phantom of grammar, a fossil embedded in the childhood of rational speech. So Nietzsche (and many after him). This essay argues the reverse.” p. 3

3. Art Critical/Art Historical Perspective:
James Elkins, On the Strange Place of Religion and Contemporary Art. NY; London: Routledge, 2004.

“Sooner or later, if you love art, you will come across a strange fact: there is almost no modern religious art in museums or in books of art history. It is a state of affairs that is at once obvious and odd, known to everyone and yet hardly whispered about. I can’t think of a subject that is harder to get right, more challenging to speak about in a way that will be acceptable to the many viewpoints people bring to bear.” ix

4. Theological Aesthetics:
Nicholas Wolterstorff, Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1980.

"There is no purpose which art serves, not any which it is intended to serve. Art plays and is meant to play an enormous diversity of roles in human life. Works of art are instruments by which we perform such diverse actions as praising our great mean and expressing our grief, evoking emotion and communicating knowledge. Works of art are objects of such actions as contemplation for the sake of delight. Works of art are accompaniments for such actions as hoeing cotton and rocking infants. Works of art are background for such actions as eating meals and walking through airports." p.4

5. Theological Aesthetics:
Calvin Seerveld, Raindows for the Fallen World: Aesthetic Life and Artistic Task. Toronto: Tuppence, 2005.

“Art is one way for men and women to respond to the Lord’s command to cultivate the earth, to praise his Name. Art is neither more nor less that that.” “Art, christianly conceived, is not something esoteric. Art is no more special (nor less special) than marriage and prayer and fresh strawberries out of season.” p.25

See also the reading lists available from the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts here.