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Indepth Arts News:

"Short Stories - Vik Muniz: Reparte"
2001-10-04 until 2001-12-16
Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington
Seattle, WA, USA United States of America

Vik Muniz specializes in fake reality and real fakes. His work constitutes a witty dialogue – or reparté – with the history of images. He makes what he describes as ... the worst possible illusion that will still fool the eye. Because, he says, illusions as bad as mine make people aware of the fallacies of visual informa-tion and the pleasure to be derived from such fallacies.

Beginning in advertising and experiment-ing with sculptural form on the side, Muniz gradually became increasingly interested in photographs of his objects and less interested in the sculptures themselves. By 1993 he was constructing pictures out of wire that he then photographed. Eventually, turning his attention exclusively to photography, his object making served to produce dispos-able tools used to pose questions about representation. As the artist observed, these images at first look like drawings, but when the viewer realizes he is looking at a photograph of something that actual-ly exists in the world of objects, the ‘rep-resentative’ content of the images suffers a semantic short circuit.

Muniz employs unusual materials including potting soil, leftover spaghetti marinara and the contents of ashtrays. He redraws familiar – or famous – images in sugar, thread or chocolate syrup. After the pictures are taken, the original objects are destroyed: the sugar cleared off the paper, the thread reused and the choco-late perhaps eaten. Muniz explains that the photographs manufacture a quality of monumentality lacking in such materials. Photography he says, 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.

Vik Muniz: Reparté, a featured exhibition in Short Stories, includes characteristic pho-tographic series such as Pictures of Soil, The Sugar Children, and Pictures of Chocolate. Reparté also showcases photo-graphs and other objects from the artist’s own collections that reveal the grand tradition of fakery embedded in the history of photography. His cliché-verre prints – Barbizon drawings scratched into a blackened glass plate and printed as photographs – provide a context for Muniz’s own fusion of drawing and photography.

Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1961, Muniz has lived and worked in New York City since the mid-1980s. He has shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Tate Gallery, London and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York among many other institutions. Muniz is featured in the current Venice Biennale.

Vik Muniz
Anthropometries, 1998
Collection Lauren L. Esposito, Atlanta.
Courtesy Brent Sikkema, NY.

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