The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University serves as the only Midwest venue for a major mid-career retrospective of the celebrated contemporary photographer Vik Muniz in fall 2016.
Co-organized by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Vik Muniz covers more than twenty-five years of the imaginative artist's career and features over 80 photographs, including many of Muniz's most recent works. The exhibition will travel internationally following its presentation at the Eskenazi Museum of Art from October 1, 2016 through February 5, 2017.
A public opening for the exhibition will be held on Friday, September 30, with a lecture by Vik Muniz at 5:30-6:30 p.m. in IU's Fine Arts auditorium (room 015), followed by a reception at the museum from 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Along with the exhibition, the Eskenazi Museum is purchasing--with generous support from David and Martha Moore and Judi and Milt Stewart--the powerful diptych George Stinney Jr. from Muniz's Album Series. This addition to the museum's permanent collection will make sure Muniz's rich artwork lives on in Bloomington long after the exhibition is over. A photographic depiction of a collage made of thousands of photos, the work is based on the mug shots of the youngest man ever to be executed in the United States. The diptych speaks to a recurring theme of social justice found in Muniz's work, and will provide a powerful addition to the museum's collection of over 12,000 photographs.
One of the most innovative and creative artists of our time, Vik Muniz (born 1961, São Paulo, Brazil) is renowned for creating what he calls "photographic delusions." Working with a dizzying array of unconventional materials-including sugar, tomato sauce, diamonds, magazine clippings, chocolate syrup, dust, and junk-he painstakingly constructs 3-D pictures before recording them with his camera. His resulting large-scale photographs often quote iconic images from popular culture and the history of art while defying easy classification and challenging viewers' perception. From a distance, the subject of each photograph is discernible; up close, the work reveals a complex and surprising matrix through which it was assembled. That revelatory moment when one thing transforms into another is of deep interest to Muniz. Although some of his projects involve the use of large crews and heavy equipment, his more recent work utilizes electron microscopes and manipulates microorganisms to unveil both the familiar and the strange in spaces that are typically inaccessible to the human eye. In addition to playing with scale, process, and materials, Muniz explores ideas of appropriation, reproduction, truth, and memory.
The exhibition-his most significant and comprehensive to date-weaves together diverse phases of the artist's career, ranging from his ground-breaking The Sugar Children series (1996) to his more recent Album pictures (2014-15), created using thousands of found anonymous snapshots arranged to reference images from Muniz's own family albums. In both, the choice of material from which they were constructed relates to the imagery portrayed. While rooted in a Pop art tradition, some of Muniz's images address more serious issues of war, colonization, and social injustice (including those related to the award-winning documentary Waste Land). Described as a trickster and a philosopher, Muniz transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary and invites us to look again.
Other key works featured in the exhibition will include:
* Prints from the Pictures of Garbage series (2008), for which Muniz worked with pickers from the world's largest landfill in Rio de Janeiro to construct images using garbage from the dump. These photographs include a re-creation of Jacques-Louis David's 1793 painting The Death of Marat as a portrait of one of the pickers Sebastião.
* The world's most famous painting-the Mona Lisa-doubly depicted in peanut butter and jelly from Muniz's series After Warhol (1999).
* A recent photograph from the Sandcastles series (2103), for which he built the world's smallest sandcastles using a scanning electron microscope to etch micro-drawings of castles on individual grains of sand.
* An example from Muniz's Colonies series (2014), for which the artist collaborated with MIT scientists to employ microorganisms, including bacteria and even cancer cells, to multiply in choreographed designs.
* A re-creation of the iconic Hans Namuth photograph of Jackson Pollock working on a large canvas in his studio, made using chocolate syrup, from Muniz's Pictures of Chocolate series (1998).
Born in 1961 in São Paulo, Brazil, Vik Muniz grew up in a poor, working-class environment and showed early aptitude for drawing. His school lecture notes were most often composed of drawings of the presented material. Following an accidental shooting in which Muniz was injured, he received a legal settlement that afforded him the chance to study art in the United States. Over the past two decades, Muniz's work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide and is included in the collections of major international museums, such as the Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The J. Paul Getty Museum; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and the Eskenazi Museum of Art. Recently, Muniz was commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to contribute artwork for the 72nd Street and 2nd Ave. subway station in New York, which will open to the public at the end of 2016.
In addition to his artistic activities, Muniz is involved in educational and social projects in Brazil and the United States. His documentary Waste Land (2010) was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for Best Film. In 2011 UNESCO nominated him Goodwill Ambassador, and in January 2013 he received the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum. In 2014 Muniz finished building Escola Vidigal, a school of art and technology for low-income children from the Vidigal community in Rio de Janeiro. He has also been a guest speaker at major universities and museums such as University of Oxford; Harvard University; Yale University; the TED Conference; New York University; the International Center of Photography; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the High Museum of Art; and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, among others. Muniz lives and works in New York and Rio de Janeiro.
The exhibition is accompanied by a 192-page, illustrated publication produced by Delmonico Books/Prestel in association with the High Museum of Art and the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography. The book features an essay by Arthur Ollman that traces the development of Muniz's art from its innovative beginnings to his most recent awe-inspiring creations as well as an interview with Muniz by art historian Diana Wechsler. The catalogue will be available for purchase through the Eskenazi Museum of Art's Angles Café and Gift Shop.