Vik Muniz photographs appear as if created by a magician or a virtuoso who’s manipulations seem – at first site – not to have much in common with photography per se. His works are created with rudimentary and ephemeral means that are chosen for their relationship with the image they assemble. Vik Muniz reconstructs images that our visual memory has amassed, images that more often than not resemble our souvenirs.
These images are re-photographed in order to replace the originals from which they originated. They leave us facing an illusory representation, created from scratch: from the landscapes remaking some of the most renowned 19th century landscapes with thread, fetish images of Andy Warhol’s output made out of chocolate syrup and other edibles (Xippas Gallery, 1999), to the series Pictures of Dust created for the Whitney Museum (2000), or Pictures of Color and Pictures of Air for the Venice Biennial (2002) or the Erotica images made out of silly putty (2001). For his new show at the Galerie Xippas, Vik Muniz presents an ensemble of twelve photographs following somewhat the story of “The Beauty and the Beast”. The pictures of six Diamond Divas (Romy Schneider, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Maria Callas, Monica Vitti and Catherine Deneuve) are made with 550 carats of diamonds each. These are a continuation of the series based on Hollywood stars and created to address the sensibilities of a European audience. Next to each of them stands an image from a new series entitled Caviar Monsters. Six images reproduce the faces of motion pictures monsters: Frankenstein, Dracula, the Phantom of the Opera, the Mummy, Wolfman and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The materials used, apparently colorless such as translucent white for the diamonds and black for the caviar, release an intensity characteristic of the subjects: glitter and scintillation for beauty, profundity, density and opacity for ugliness.
While reinforcing our feeling of familiarity with things, Muniz deceives the eye. He encourages doubt and our ability to look at things and analyze them: “vision is before anything else a form of intelligence and recognition or identification of some sort of comfort.” Muniz’s images confront us with the felling of familiarity but make us capable of reversing the process of identification.
Vik Muniz was born in 1961 at São Paulo, Brazil. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, USA.
Selected recent solo shows
2004/05 Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, Spain (September 16–January 9).
Piranesi Prison. National Academy of Sciences, Washington D.C., USA (August 1-May 1)
2004 Brent Sikkema Gallery, New York, USA.
Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, California, USA
Irish Museum of Contemporary Art, Dublin, Ireland
Galeria Elba Benitez, Madrid, Spain
Retratos de Revista. Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil
Special Project with Graphic Art Studio/University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida
2003/04 Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea-CGAC, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
MACRO, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, Rome, Italy *
2003 Gallery Gan, Tokyo, Japan.
Monadic Works and Drawings. Galeria Fortes Vilaça, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indianapolis, USA.