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Vik Muniz:

Brazilian Photographer, born in 1961

Vik Muniz (Brazil, 1961) is an avant-garde artist who experiments with novel media. For example, he made two detailed replicas of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa: one out of jelly and the other out of peanut butter. He has also worked in sugar, wire, thread, and Bosco Chocolate Syrup, out of which he produced a recreation of Leonardo's Last Supper. Many of Muniz's works are new approaches to older pieces; he has reinterpreted a number of Monet's paintings, including paintings of the cathedral at Rouen, which Muniz accomplished using small clumps of pigment sprinkled onto a flat surface.

Vik Muniz's use of materials is more than a result of aesthetic decisions alone. In his picture of Sigmund Freud, for example, he uses chococlate to render the image. The photograph is printed in such high resolution that one can almost taste the material from which the image is made. In this sense, Muniz is referring to Freud's theory of the oral stage. Likewise, because of the chocolate's viscosity and visual similarity to excrement there is an allusion to Freud's anal stage as well. This conceptual framing of matter is also apparent in his Sugar Children series. In this body of work, Muniz went to a sugar plantation in Brazil to photograph children of laborers who work there. He made the images from the sugar at the plantation. The differential in value between the wages of the laborers, and the fluctuating cost of sugar in the international market as well the price for the photograph, reveal much about geopoltics, global/local economics, and the art world.

More recently he has been creating larger-scale works, such as pictures carved into the earth (geoglyphs) or made of huge piles of junk. His sense of humor comes through in his "Pictures of Clouds" series, in which he had a skywriter draw cartoon outlines of clouds in the sky.

Muniz has a solo exhibition at the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa, Florida currently called "Vik Muniz: Reflex". This exhibition, organized by the Miami Art Museum, is currently also on display at the Seattle Art Museum and will travel to PS1 Contemporary Art Museum in New York in February 2007


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