Friday, August 17, 2012

'Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters' to open August 25 at Mint Museum Uptown

Vik Muniz, a Brazilian contemporary artist who is known for
transforming garbage into re-creations of world-famous works of art,
is the subject of a new exhibition opening August 25 at Mint Museum
Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts.

Muniz's re-creations of famous paintings are notable for their uncanny
attention to detail and the non-traditional nature of the media he
chooses. Muniz painstakingly gathers such discarded objects as tires,
bolts, coils of wire, broken appliances, and soda cans, arranging them
on a warehouse floor in piles and layers to create representations of
iconic paintings by historical artists. After this labor-intensive
process is complete, Muniz photographs the massive creation from a
balcony above, thereby preserving the final appearance before the
image is disassembled.

"Muniz mines the transformative power of art and representation.
Muniz's pictures enlighten us to better see the consumerist,
transitory culture in which we reside and to which we contribute, by
making beautiful imagery from the detritus of contemporary life," said
Carla Hanzal, the Mint's curator of modern and contemporary art.
"Muniz makes visible the refuse of consumption — the discarded, ugly,
forgotten, and suppressed. The waste is transformed, through ordering
and arranging, into venerated images, resulting in something entirely
new and valuable."

Muniz, born into poverty in São Paulo in 1961, has arguably become the
most famous contemporary artist from his native country. His
conceptual photographs are exhibited internationally, and he is
represented in significant museum collections throughout the world.
Beginning his art career in the mid-1980s after relocating to the
United States, Muniz established a studio in Brooklyn.

"The beautiful thing about garbage is that it's negative; it's
something that you don't use anymore; it's what you don't want to
see," Muniz has said. "So if you are a visual artist, it becomes a
very interesting material to work with because it's the most nonvisual
of materials. You are working with something that you usually try to

The exhibition consists of seven large-scale photographs, accompanied
by comparative images of the historical works upon which they are
based. It includes The Birth of Venus, after Botticelli (Pictures of
Junk), 2008, which is a candidate in the Mint's "Vote for Art"
project. It is one of six works by some of the world's top artists and
designers that will be on display throughout the museum. Museum
visitors will cast ballots for their three favorite works from the
field of candidates, and the museum will acquire the three winning
works and add them to its permanent collection. Visitors to the museum
during the Democratic National Convention will be offered ballots,
from September 1-7; voting opens to the general public October 1
through November 9.

In another tie-in to the Democratic National Convention, the
exhibition includes a work that was a gift to President Obama. Marat
(Sebastião), Pictures of Garbage, 2008, was generously loaned to the
exhibition by the State Department Collection of the United States
Government. It is modeled after the well-known painting by Jacques-
Louis David, The Death of Marat, and named after Sebastião (Tião)
Carlos Dos Santos, a man who made his living from the age of 11 by
working as a "picker," recovering recyclables at the world's largest
landfill, Jardim Gramacho, outside of Rio de Janeiro.

On September 16, visitors of all ages will be invited to experiment
with Muniz's techniques in a special Sunday Fun Day, "Recycled
Masterpieces: The Art of Vik Muniz," from 1-4 p.m. at Mint Museum
Uptown. Admission is free for children and Mint members and half-price
for adults ($5). The run of the exhibition will include two more
special events: Muniz himself is scheduled to visit the museum on
Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. for a FREE artist's lecture; and
the award-winning 2010 documentary film "Waste Land," depicting
Muniz's work, is scheduled for a FREE screening at Mint Museum Uptown
on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 7 p.m.

Collectively, Muniz's photographs bring to mind ideas of ecology,
impermanence, and mortality. Muniz's photographs implicate the viewer
in a consumerist, transitory culture. His photographs fuse two
important strands of postmodern photography — staging and
appropriation. Staging is the creation of an image through
choreographing all visual components of the photograph; appropriation
is borrowing imagery from a source of reference, in this case
historically significant paintings from the Western tradition. The
resulting photographs are both fascinating and disarming, and probe
the function and traditions of visual representation.

This exhibition is organized by The Mint Museum and is scheduled to
travel to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee
to be on display from June 14-September 22, 2013. It is the tenth
installment of VantagePoint, the Mint's contemporary art series that
emphasizes new developments in recent art practice. VantagePoint X /
Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters exhibition and accompanying brochure are
generously sponsored by the Goodrich Foundation.
Image shows:

The Birth of Venus, after Botticelli (Pictures of Junk) 2008

digital chromogenic print

Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins Gallery, New York City.

Art © Vik Muniz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


As the oldest art museum in North Carolina, and the art museum with
one of the largest collections in the Southeast, The Mint Museum
offers its visitors transformative art experiences designed to inspire
its visitors beyond the walls of its two distinctive facilities: Mint
Museum Randolph and Mint Museum Uptown. Each location houses
innovative collections, ground-breaking exhibitions, and riveting
educational programs. Together, they form one of the largest and most
significant collections of art in the Southeast.

Located in what was the original branch of the United States Mint,
Mint Museum Randolph opened in 1936 in Charlotte's Eastover
neighborhood as the state's first art museum. Today, in a beautiful
park setting, intimate galleries invite visitors to engage with the
art of the ancient Americas, ceramics and decorative arts, fashion,
European and African art, among other collections. Resources include a
reference library with over 18,000 volumes, a theater featuring
lectures and performances, and a museum shop offering merchandise that
complements both the permanent collection and special exhibitions.

Mint Museum Uptown houses the internationally renowned Craft + Design
collection, as well as outstanding collections of American,
contemporary, and European art. Designed by Machado and Silvetti
Associates of Boston, the five-story, 145,000-square-foot facility
combines inspiring architecture with cutting-edge exhibitions to
provide visitors with unparalleled educational and cultural
experiences. Located in the heart of Charlotte's burgeoning center
city, Mint Museum Uptown is an integral part of the Levine Center for
the Arts, a cultural campus that includes the Bechtler Museum of
Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and
Culture, the Knight Theater, and the Duke Energy Center. Mint Museum
Uptown also features a wide range of visitor amenities, including the
240-seat James B. Duke Auditorium, the Lewis Family Gallery, art
studios, a restaurant, and a museum shop. For more information, visit
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