Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz

10.10.04 04.12.04

Xippas Athens Past

Vik Muniz works with the syntax of photography, but his images are not simply photographic. He makes pictures of pictures, sly, punning documents that subvert photography by forcing it to record not the natural world but a fiction, a simulation. Muniz’s pictures are reconstructions of pictures collected by our visual memory, illusions that draw from the language of visual culture.
They twist and redefine our perception of both the commonplace and the fantastic, humorously and critically challenging our ability to discern fact from fiction, reality from illusion.
Utilizing a wide variety of unorthodox and ephemeral materials, granulated sugar, tomato sauce, chocolate syrup, sewing thread, dust, soil, Muniz first creates an image, sculpturally manipulates it, then photographs it.
«There are two things that are constant in my work. I am always portraying things that represent other things. And I am always representing things that exist just for a limited amount of time. I am a photographer. If something is not ephemeral, why photograph it? If you want to see it, you just go there and see it.»

After the pictures are taken, Muniz destroys the original object and leaves only its trace on film: the sugar is cleared off the paper, the thread is reused for another sculpture, and perhaps the chocolate is eaten. This way the photographs create the quality of monumentality lacking in such ephemeral material.

«What really fascinates me about the photographic process is that it endorses the existence of things. A chocolate puddle with the likeness of Freud becomes part of the same history as its notable subject. Photography reveals their true identity as objects.»

For his first show at the Xippas Gallery in Athens, Vik Muniz will present a total of 12 photographs: 6 diamond portraits of the famous stars Romy Schneider, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia loren, Maria Callas, Monica Vitti, and Catherine Deneuve as well as 6 portraits of legendary Hollywood monsters such as Frankestein, Dracula and others, made of caviar!

Muniz was born in Sao Paolo, Brasil, in 1961, but has lived and worked in New York since the late 1980’s. He began his career as a sculptor, but gradually became more interested in photographic reproductions of his sculptures than in the sculpures themselves and turned his attention exclusively to photography. He has had major one artist exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Contemporary Art, Dublin, Irland, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea-CGAC, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, MACRO – Contemporary Art Centre, Rome (2003), 49th Venice Biennale and Palazzo Fortuny, Venice (2001), Whitney 0useum, New York (2001), National Centre of Photography, Paris (1999), International Center of Photography, New York (1998), Galerie Xippas, Paris (2004, 2001, 1999), Brent Sikkema Gallery, New York (2004, 2002, 2000, 1998), Galeria Camargo Vilaca, Sao Paolo, Brasil (2003, 2001, 2000). He also participated in many important group exhibitions such as Only Skin Deep: Visions of the America Self, International Center of Photography, New York (2003), Tempo, Inaugural group show of MoMAQNS, New York (2002), Moving Pictures, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2002), Visions from America: Photographs from the Whitney Museum of American Art 1940-2001, Whitney Museum (2002), What’ s New: Recent Acquisitions in Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2002), The 46th Corcoran Biennial Exhibition: Media/Metaphor, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C, USA (2000), Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum, New York (2000), Trace. First Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art, Tate Gallery, Liverpool, UK (1999), The Museum as Muse: Artist Reflect. The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1999), Abracadabra,Tate Gallery, London (1999), New Photography XIII, The Museum of Modern Art (1997).

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