Photography and Wonder

The work of Vik Muniz at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk.

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Mahana No Atua (Day of the Gods), After Gauguin by Vik Muniz.

Image courtesy of the Chrysler Museum

The Brazilian-born contemporary visual artist Vik Muniz likes to play with his food—and our perceptions. A resident of Brooklyn, N.Y. since the mid-1980s, Muniz utilizes a variety of mediums, including chocolate syrup, sugar, ketchup, sand, diamonds and toy soldiers to produce works which he calls “photographic delusions.”

A mostly-eaten plate of spaghetti, for example, reveals the snake-haired, horrified face of Medusa Marinara (1997). Diamonds arranged against a black background form a recognizable portrait of Marlene Dietrich (2004). After crafting his designs, Muniz photographs each work, creating permanence, but also adding an extra layer to the lens of translation and interpretation. 

A retrospective currently on display at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk showcases images from the earliest stages of the artist’s career alongside some of his latest works, including land drawings photographed from the air and recent microscopically photographed images of bacteria organized into floral patterns and cancer cells in the shape of a cat.

“Vik Muniz: Photography and the Rebirth of Wonder” is presented in partnership with the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and will be on display through Oct. 14. An interactive portion of the exhibition encourages visitors to assemble their own creations using processes similar to that of Muniz and provides a hands-on activity station with the tools to photograph and share their art on social media. Chrysler.org

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