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Bani Abidi: ‘What you see in my films is what I know’ Ocula Conversation Bani Abidi: ‘What you see in my films is what I know’

A group of voices accompanies me in the exhibition. They are singing words I cannot comprehend, yet the warm tunes are familiar: folk songs, love songs, songs of longing. There are letters, too. They speak of the quotidian details of a soldier's life: the hardness of the war, sending money to the family, and longing for familiar landscapes, food,...

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Aichi to Okayama: Art in Japan Looks to the Future Ocula Report Aichi to Okayama: Art in Japan Looks to the Future 11 Oct 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

There has been a flurry of triennial and biennial art activity in Japan this year. The Aichi Triennale opened in Nagoya this August, sparking a national debate about the shutting down of a display of formerly censored works—the result of public backlash against a burnt image of Emperor Hirohito and a statue commemorating the women forced into...

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Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum Ocula Insight | Video Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum 16 August 2019

Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...

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Vik Muniz

b. 1961, Brazil

Vik Muniz is best known for his works made from everyday materials such as string, garbage, chocolate syrup and dirt. He engages in the referential potential of these surprising mediums by assembling works that incorporate their subject matter into their materials. In doing so, Muniz adds new dimensions to established notions of representation.

Muniz began his career in sculpture with playful works such as Clown Skull (1987), from his 'Relics' series, which depicts the realistic-looking skull of a clown, bulbous bone nose included. Eventually, however, he found photographic documentation of his sculptural work to be more compelling than the artworks themselves and gradually came to focus on photography as the exclusive final medium for all his pieces. His 1989 series 'The Best of LIFE' was inspired by photographs from the coffee table publication The Best of LIFE, a book he had owned but lost while moving house. Muniz drew the legendary images in the book memory—among them The Man on the Moon and Kiss at Times Square (both 1989)—then photographed the drawings and presented the photos as final works. In another series, titled 'Pictures of Clouds' (2001), the artist photographed a skywriter's clouds as they gradually disintegrated and disappeared.

Unlike fading clouds formations which are in danger of disappearing from memory, masterpieces such as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando are deeply embedded in popular consciousness. However, Muniz's depictions of these images rework the iconography in non-traditional mediums that match the content of the image itself. For example, his 2004 portrait of Marilyn Monroe, titled Marilyn Monroe (Pictures of Diamonds), is made of diamonds—a reference to her famous song 'Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend'. In his 'Pictures of Dust' series (2001), Muniz replicates the works of various famous mid-century American artists—such as Donald Judd's Untitled (1965) and Richard Serra's Prop (1968)—in dust collected from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Discussing the piece in his Joseph M Cohen Family Collection biography, Muniz said: 'Dust is pieces of hair and skin. I think people scratch their heads a lot in museums; that gets mixed with the residue from the artworks themselves. That's the ultimate bond between the museum visitor and the artwork'.

In the past decade, Muniz has extended his visual repertoire from contemporary culture to more personal encounters. In his series 'Pictures of Garbage' (2008), he photographed garbage pickers he met at an open-air dumpsite just outside Rio de Janeiro called Jardim Gramacho. However, he retains his interest in iconography by staging the pickers as the subjects of classical portraits, such as the French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat from Jacques-Louis David's Death of Marat. Details of the images were accented with the garbage the models had scavenged. In the accompanying documentary film Waste Land (2010), directed by Lucy Walker, Muniz states that he aimed to 'change the lives of people with the same materials they deal with every day'. Indeed, due the critical acclaim and success of the documentary, the artist and the filmmakers have donated more than $300,000 to the pickers' community in Jardim Gramacho.

Muniz splits his time between Brooklyn and Rio de Janeiro.

Biography by Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Repro: Centre Pompidou (Rythme, after Sonia Delaunay) by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizRepro: Centre Pompidou (Rythme, after Sonia Delaunay), 2019 Inkjet printing on archival paper
194.1 x 160 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler
Imaginaria: Saint Barbara by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizImaginaria: Saint Barbara, 2019 Archival inkjet print
199.6 x 150.1 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler
Piccadilly Circus (Postcards from Nowhere) by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizPiccadilly Circus (Postcards from Nowhere), 2014 Digital C-print
180.3 x 245.4 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts
Mnemonic Vehicle No. 2 by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizMnemonic Vehicle No. 2, 2015 Composite, polyurethane, Plexiglas, and aluminium
128.2 x 436.8 x 175.2 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts
Beethoven (Pictures of Magazines) by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizBeethoven (Pictures of Magazines), 2006 Chromogenic print
243.8 x 180.3 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts
Sutra (Handmade) by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizSutra (Handmade), 2019 Mixed media
152.4 x 121.9 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts
Microbe (Handmade) by Vik Muniz contemporary artwork
Vik MunizMicrobe (Handmade), 2019 Mixed media
160.5 x 123.2 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Vik Muniz, Real Pictures at Ben Brown Fine Arts, London
Closed
7 June–19 September 2019 Vik Muniz Real Pictures Ben Brown Fine Arts, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Journeys at Krakow Witkin Gallery, Boston
Closed
30 March–4 May 2019 Group Exhibition Journeys Krakow Witkin Gallery, Boston
Contemporary art exhibition, Vik Muniz, Imaginária at Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro
Closed
30 November–20 December 2018 Vik Muniz Imaginária Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Two Exhibitions: Two Collections - Japan Focus Ocula Report Two Exhibitions: Two Collections - Japan Focus 12 Sep 2014 : Annabel James for Ocula

Two private collection shows in Japan this summer revealed radically different ways to present and interpret the role of the contemporary art collector.

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In Related Press

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The art of the beautiful game: football moves off pitch and into the museum Related Press The art of the beautiful game: football moves off pitch and into the museum Wallpaper* : 16 June 2018

Football has many guises. It is a pastime where schoolboys scrape knees in a courtyard; a tear-jerking symbol of national pride; a multi-billion dollar industry with corporate interest.

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'You always find something different': Sir Elton John on his love of photography Related Press 'You always find something different': Sir Elton John on his love of photography Christie's : 14 March 2017

‘A photograph brings me so much joy, they’re beautiful objects,’ says Sir Elton John, discussing a remarkable collection of 25 works by some of the world’s greatest photographers, to be offered at Christie’s in New York on 6 April 2017. Proceeds from the sale of these works will benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), an international...

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'Metachromes': Vik Muniz Related Press 'Metachromes': Vik Muniz ArtAsiaPacific : 10 March 2017

Metachromes is the third solo exhibition to be held at Ben Brown Fine Arts in Hong Kong. Featuring the work of internationally renowned São Paulo-born, New York-based artist Vik Muniz, the exhibition showcases the artist's most recent series Metachrome (2016) alongside new works from his renowned Pictures of Pigments series (2005—16).

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From Chuck Close to Sarah Sze, a Ride Through the Art of the Second Avenue Subway Related Press From Chuck Close to Sarah Sze, a Ride Through the Art of the Second Avenue Subway Hyperallergic : 5 January 2017

On New Year’s Day, there were two ways you could celebrate 2017 on either end of New York City’s Q train: take it all the way to Coney Island and go for a frigid swim with the Polar Bear Club or journey to three new Manhattan stops nearly a century in the making. The Second Avenue Subway, following long delays, incredible cost, and years of...

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