Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Vik Muniz Exhibit

The Vik Muniz exhibit currently at the High Museum is a very special thing. 

I went with lighthearted expectations, and I left with thoughts that will keep my brain busy for quite a while. 

Vik Muniz creates his art with materials that surprised me. Here's his version of Dorothea Lang's Migrant Mother. At first glance I thought "okay, it's pixilated, recognizable, looks modern, beautiful, sad". 

Then, upon closer view, I could see that it was created with a black liquid. Ink. Interesting. 

When viewing each work I had to look from close and far. I wanted to see the big picture from a little bit back, but then I needed to be close to inspect the materials that were used to make the bigger picture.  When I watched a video interview of Vik Muniz I realized that this dance of close and far and close was exactly the experience that he intended. His words explain it so beautifully. 

"When you go back, you see something that was literally a product of somebody's mind. You see mind. And you go closer; you see matter. In between mind and matter there is one moment, a very delicate, sublime moment, where you cross this threshold between what's inside of you - the world of things that are supposed to be understood - and the world of materials - things that are mundane, and they do not necessarily have to have any meaning. The experience of art lies not in either side of this bargain, but in that precise moment when something turns into something else."

Love that so much. Magic. 

Vik Muniz's version of the Mona Lisa was funny to me. It really made me laugh. The thought of something so expensive and treasured being recreated with common, approachable peanut butter and jelly is kind of hilarious! 

The pieces created from other photos were very powerful. You see from afar it's a smiling baby. From closer, you can see the baby is made from photos of many babies. It's intensely emotional to think of all the moments that make a life. The birthday parties, vacations, milestones, etc., they all add up to create you. It's a lot to take in within a moment. How interesting it would be if others could see all of the moments that have made us. 

Thinking of life and all the things we enjoy, survive, and experience, makes the piece below almost too intense for me. This is George Stinney, Jr.  

To look up close, and to see his image created from the moments that he may have experienced, but also the moments that he never is heartbreaking. 

My light hearted expectations were fulfilled, but this exhibit is so much more than just clever arrangements of objects and images. For me, it was an intense interaction with art and humanity. Phew, I need a drink. 

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