Using Garbage as Medium, Brazilian Artist Vik Muniz Brings Social Issues to Light through Re-creation of Art Masterpieces
Garbage Matters opens June 14th in Gordon CAP Gallery
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 25, 2013)– This summer, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts’ Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery will feature works by contemporary Brazilian artist Vik Muniz. Muniz is widely celebrated for his photographs, which he produces by arranging refuse materials to mimic pre-existing imagery. Muniz’s works in this exhibition—images of garbage arranged to simulate masterpieces of Western art—explore the relationship between the timelessness ascribed to such cultural milestones and the grim immediacy of poverty and waste. The exhibition, entitled Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters, will be on display from June 14 through September 15, 2013.
Featuring selections from two series, Pictures of Junk and Pictures of Garbage, the exhibition delves into the fundamental questions about aesthetic and economic value in art and life. “Muniz encourages viewers to consider waste as an important, yet often hidden, part of the human ecosystem,” says Frist Center Chief Curator, Mark Scala. “When the artist transforms devalued detritus into something beautiful and links it to universally acclaimed examples of cultural attainment, he inspires us to revisit our notions of what is to be valued.”
Trash objects for the production of Pictures of Garbage were gathered from the world’s largest landfill, Jardim Granacho, located in the artist’s hometown of Rio de Janeiro. Muniz invited local gleaners—whose livelihood derives from collecting and selling recyclable materials—to gather cast-off materials with which to compose the photographs, and in some cases to pose as models in the re-creation of the masterpieces. “The artist has brilliantly associated the invisibility of the landfill with that of the impoverished gleaners, whose work is dangerous, unrelenting, and unappreciated,” Mr. Scala notes. “Muniz reminds us of the economic and environmental value of recycling, while underscoring the humanity of those that more prosperous people may not have known even existed.”
Materials gleaned from the landfill were arranged under Muniz’s direction to echo famous paintings such as Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. Muniz’s remake incorporates wire, old computers, broken bottles and other detritus in its portrayal of the goddess emerging from the sea on her shell. “From a distance, these elements merge into a seemingly integrated reproduction; it could never be mistaken for the actual painting, but its derivation is clear,” explains Mr. Scala. “As the viewer moves closer to the photograph, the nature of the discarded elements composing the image becomes more evident.
“The humble materials comprising Muniz’s work remind us that great cultural attainments throughout history have often been achieved in environments—and often as a consequence—of repression and economic disparity; art can come at a human cost. However, this does not alter the greater truth of Muniz’s vision: beauty, humanistic values, and spiritual aspiration can emerge from the most abject of worlds.”
About Vik Muniz
Vik Muniz is one of Brazil’s most widely acclaimed contemporary artists. In 1983, the artist moved from his birthplace of Sao Paulo, Brazil to the United States. He began his artistic career as a sculptor in the mid-eighties, but soon developed an interest in photography. Muniz has had in exhibitions in renowned institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), The Tate Gallery (London) and The Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo).
Pictures of Garbage was the subject of the film Waste Land, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2010. Waste Land took place in Muniz’s hometown of Rio de Janeiro and documented the artist’s work with local gleaners who collected trash from the Jardim Gramacho landfill. The film also recorded the step-by-step process that took place in the creation of the photographs. Due to Muniz’s role in helping to improve education and social progress, he was given the honorary title of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
This exhibition was organized by the Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is supported in part by the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Related Public Programs
Thursdays and Fridays, May 23–Sept.15
Art-Making in the Lobby: Garbage Galore!
Thursday and Friday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (except during member previews) Frist Center visitors are encouraged to create artwork developed in response to our current exhibitions. Art-Making in the Lobby is free and open to all visitors.
Through September 15, 2013, visitors are invited to create unique displays of artwork associated with the exhibition, Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters, which is on display in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery from June 14 through September 15, 2013. Vik Muniz employs simple, everyday waste materials to construct beautiful images that relay messages of poverty and economic hardship. Guests can create a work based on the materials and values represented in the exhibition. Dry erase boards and other supplies are provided for the creation of personal scenes of garbage art. Visitors will also be able to photograph their finished work with their smartphone and post to the Frist Center’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page.
Sunday, August 18
Artful Tales: “Rudy Rhythm goes Green”
Frist Center Auditorium/Studios
Rudy Rhythm is back and she’s going green! Rudy and her friends take part in a neighborhood clean-up of a vacant lot and together they learn about recycling. After the story, work together to create your own upcycled art work. This program connects visitors to the exhibition Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters
Summer Art Camp Programs:
June 17–21 and July 15–19, 2013
Trash into Treasure
Ages 5–7 years
Members: $150, Non-Members: $200
Transform discarded objects into fantastic works of art. Drawing on the exhibition Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters, participants will investigate being environmental and use recycled household items and everyday junk to construct collages, sculpture, jewelry, and more.
June 10–14 and July 8–12, 2013
Ages 8–10 years
9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Members: $150, Non-Members: $200
Create sculpture—installations, wearable and decorative—inspired by the exhibition Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters. Participants will learn about contemporary artists who make art using recycled materials. Young artists will experiment with mixed media and various techniques to construct a found object sculpture, an embossed water bottle bracelet, a resin paperweight, and much more.
About the Frist Center
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., is an art exhibition center dedicated to presenting the finest visual art from local, regional, U.S. and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery (open until 5:30 p.m. each day) features interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and younger and to Frist Center members. Frist Center admission is $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for seniors, military and college students with ID. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5–9 p.m. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling (615) 744-3247.The Frist Center galleries, Café and Gift Shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sundays, 1–5:30 p.m., with the Frist Center Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling (615) 244-3340 or by visiting our website at www.fristcenter.org.
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