Vik Muniz: Seeing Is Believing
January 28 - March 26, 2000
New York artist Vik Muniz works with the syntax of photography, hut his images are not simply photographic. As Vince Aletti pointed out in the Village Voice, "[Muniz] has teased the medium mercilessly and with an infectious glee. 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." (left: Action Photo (After Hans Namuth), 1997, 60 x 48 inches, Collection of Eileen and Peter Norton, Los Angeles)
Born in 1961, Muniz grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil where he studied advertising, a field which he acknowledges,"made me aware of the dichotomy between an object and its images." After he moved to New York in 1983, Muniz made sculptures which he documented in photographs, then began incorporating photographs in his sculptural installations. He discovered that what interested him most was the representation of objects rather than the objects themselves, the dislocation between expectation and fact, representation and reality.
Muniz's pictures are illusions that draw from the language of visual culture, but they twist and redefine our perception of both the commonplace and the fantastical. His images humorously, as well as critically challenge our ability to discern fact from fiction, reality from appearance. Utilizing a range of unorthodox materials -- granulated sugar, chocolate syrup, tomato sauce, thread, wire, cotton, soil -- Muniz first creates an image, sculpturally manipulates it, then photographs it. Whether a portrait, landscape, still life, or iconic image from history, Muniz's works are never what they seem.
"Vik Muniz: Seeing Is Believing" was organized by the International Center of Photography and is traveling internationally under the auspices of the Tang Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College. The presentation of the exhibition at The Contemporary Museum is supported in part by the State Foundation of Culture and the Arts, American Airlines, and Aston Waikiki Beachside Hotel. The exhibition is accompanied by a book published by Arena Editions which is available in the Museum Shop.
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