Vik Muniz’s New Collages (“Scraps”) Not as Awful as the Last Ones (“Surfaces”)…

Sikkema Jenkins & Co, Feb 17-April 9, 2022

“Everest” (2021)

….simply because here he is not collago-mating great works of art. That was inexcusable.
In Scraps, he is manipulating photographs and some of them are his own—probably not Everest but I don’t know—I didn’t see any attribution. Somehow it doesn’t seem to matter as much to me with photographs.
Everest is powerful when seen from a distance—say, standing outside. The bas relief adds soft and sharp shadows and the collage elements are smaller and crispier than the ones he used in Surfaces. Close up, they are more problematic, the photo’d textures recall those reproductions of paintings that feature “real brushstrokes.”

(This is a funny site—how to tell a real painting from a reproduction, from G.B. Tate and Sons Fine Art, a gallery in South Carolina.)


“Mount Ama Dablam within clouds, black and white view, way to Everest base camp, Khumbu valley, Sagarmatha National Park, Everest area, Nepal”

Oh, I do see it—just had to google “black and white photo, Everest” and it turned up the first one.

Scraps are unique objects—but they wouldn’t have to be. Whatever mechanical process Muniz is using could certainly be done in an edition, not that I am for there being more of these in the world, but then I don’t understand why reproducible objects are put out in editions of one, either.

I remember the first time I saw a projected slide put out as an edition of one. It was for sale complete with the slide projector. Seems kind of sad. Here was this perfectly good slide projector which was reduced to showing one slide for the rest of its life.

Why do I pick on Vik? Because he used to capture ephemeral moments of painting, with water or chocolate for example, by filming or photographing them and it was conceptual and sensual and necessary.
Whereas if he had made these collages by hand, they would be different—for one thing, they would look good close-up, too. Also, it would be an interesting reversal from his earlier work—to start with the photograph and slowly explore physically and sensually what it means to him. It’s that distance, the mechanical means and the rephotographing, that all seems so unnecessary.

From the press release:
“Vik Muniz’s practice considers the relationship between image production and art object, and how the distance between the two can be mediated in unexpected and innovative ways.”
The thing is that this “relationship between image production and art object” and how often we are asked to think about it in the galleries has gotten so tiresome. Museums and galleries are full of artworks asking us to stand back and consider. Like they are still giving us Wonder Bread and asking us to consider the difference between it and real bread and never recognizing that we do.

The press release also asserts that these reproductions “introduce a space of ambiguity for the viewer.” It’s embarrassing that the art world hasn’t seemed to notice that the rest of the world knows all about ‘the space of ambiguity.’


P.S. Seph Rodney wrote about Muniz in Hyperallergic. This is the first sentence:
“I imagine that most viewers of Vik Muniz’s current show Scraps at Sikkema Jenkins gallery will be attracted to this work.”

Somehow, I thought this opening implied a “but” —but it doesn’t. Rodney is attracted to it too. If you are, I encourage you to read his excellent descriptions.

For my review of Muniz’ show Surfaces

Victor Muniz and Christian Marclay: One-offs