Featuring more than 70 works, Muniz casts aside all narrative tools as he lays bare the skeleton of his art-making process, all the while toying with viewers’ certainties.
“It always goes both ways. What you expect to be a photo isn’t, and what you expect to be an object is a photographic image,” Muniz ironizes. “In a time when everything’s reproducible, the different between the artwork and its image is all but nonexistent,” he adds.
Handmade outlines the artist’s constant concern with transcending the symbolic dimensions of image.
An instance of an investigation that does not culminate with the action of photographing is Two Nails (1987/2016), which is in a way a pivotal piece within Handmade, and one whose first version belongs to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Collection, in New York City. Stripped-down to a fault, the composition shows a sheet of paper hanging from two nails, one real, the other a photograph, creating a picture so ambiguous that it becomes impossible to tell the difference in a photo reproduction. “One must be facing the actual artwork. And even then, you won’t be sure,” Muniz stresses.
Apart from the paradoxical image-object relationship and the recurrent use of illusionist strategies – “Illusion is a key prerequisite in any type of language,” he ponders –, these artworks flirt with concept art and engage in intense dialogue with abstract, kinetic, and concrete art. Above all things, Muniz says, due to their shared interest in Gestalt theories, more specifically in the fields of psychology and science.
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