2.2.07

art... Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz
Artist's Talk for "Pictures of People"
BALTIC
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.

4 comments:

redeemedson said...

A couple of questions:

What do you see to be Muniz' presupposition in composing his work as well as the message he intends to convey?

Answer your own question at the end of your original post. Can we be helped to see what we are looking at in the real world?

What do you mean by scale and perspective? I get the scale part, but not necessarily the perspective issue.

JRW

TBW said...

Ryan, you pose some good questions.

Like many artists these days, Muniz is more interested in experimentation and the development of novel techniques than a message per se. As far as an overriding presupposition, I think he considers the grand pantheon of visual imagery that rules in the sphere of the everyday (i.e. brand loyalties initiated by visual recognition, the vocabulary of advertising images, the iconography of celebrity worship, etc.) an interesting palette with which to work. In his own way, Muniz provides a very subtle critique of contemporary culture: image is everything. (Not necessarily a novel statement, is it?) His contribution, however, might be seen more as an exploration of the importance of what makes an image. For this reason, he utilizes lots of strange materials to form the sometimes cliched images he uses.

On your second question, I am sorry to report that I don't think there is an easy answer. In the past several years, an new discipline within the study of art has developed, what is known as Visual Studies. This pursuit seeks to identify and understand the significance behind all sorts of public imagery and not just that group formerly marked off as the fine arts. I think this project is quite overdue; I mean how can we expect ourselves to venture into a museum and look intently at a Renaissance depiction of some important moment of biblical history when our eyes have been exercised (or numbed rather) by the constant barrage of dynamic, moving images from the television or cinema screen or computer monitor? Most of the time we leave disappointed thinking there is little to see in that painting, but the reality is that we are the inhibited ones. We can only see a little. In this way, I want to have a more intentional approach to the images to which I surrender myself. I would rather be able to draw from memory the face of a loved one long gone than replay in my head all day last night's episode of _____.

Lastly, none of the images posted here actually demonstrate Muniz' play with perspective. That comment actually relates to other works in the show not represented here. Visit the artist's website for examples.

Sugar Kane said...

hi, nice pics up there, I love Muniz work, I meet it once in Montreal, it cautivated me, greetings. By the way, nice blog! Bye

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what a good art, is totally different to normal art, and all the characters don't need a presentation, if someone can't reconigze to one of them, there's two options, is too young, or belong to other planet.