Vik Muniz | Marat (Sebastião), from Pictures of Garbage, 2008 | Digital C-print
Vik Muniz
Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz

Born in São Paulo, Brazil, 1961; lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Many people know of Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, but how many have actually seen it? For most, the gargantuan work is no larger than a page in a book or magazine. How many people have actually seen the surface of a nearby planet, witnessed open-heart surgery, or children sprayed with napalm? Mediated knowledge comes with strings attached: It substitutes the opacity of not seeing for the transparency of seeing through. The Black Forest of myth has been replaced by a crystal garden of holographic distortions. We’re equally blinded by our ability to see through everything. The woman who stands on top of Spiral Jetty cannot see it any better than the woman who gazes at it in a book. My work attempts to define the levels of these mediations as if they were a landscape itself. Like a nineteenth century easel painter, I try to render the scenery of signs, trying to depict things, as an Impressionist would insist, as I see them. The landscape has changed, but the role of the artist remains the same: to shed light on the complex relationship between the mind and phenomena.

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