Born in 1961 in São Paulo, Brazil, Vik Muniz is an artist and photographer best known for his recreations of imagery found in pop culture and art history. Usually working in series, he incorporates the use of commonplace objects such as sugar, thread, chocolate syrup, and garbage in his works to make bold, satirical and often beguiling imagery.
At the age of 18, Muniz worked in advertising in Brazil, redesigning billboards for higher readability. While he was on the way to his first black-tie gala, Muniz witnessed and attempted to break up a street fight, where he was accidentally shot in the leg by one of the brawlers. He was paid by the shooter to not press charges, and used the money to travel to New York.
After arriving in New York in 1983, Muniz's friend lent him a studio, and he started his career as a sculptor, resulting in his first solo exhibit in 1988. In addition to sculpture, Muniz began experimenting with drawing and photography, ultimately combining these mediums in the series Sugar Children, which was featured in the Museum of Modern Art's New Photography show.
In 2010, Muniz was featured in the documentary film Waste Land, directed by Lucy Walker, which featured Muniz's work on one of the world's largest garbage dumps, Jardim Gramacho, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. The film was nominated to the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 83rd Academy Awards.
"I wanted to make color pictures that talked about color and also talked about the practical simplification of such impossible concepts. While I was trying to develop a pictorial meta-language to deal with the phenomenon, I started to realize a great deal about my obsession with making pictures that reveal their process and material structure. My work developed during a time when industrial design migrated its emphasis from form to molecular structure, in a time when information itself was atomized into a numerical organization, and even we started facing the prognostic of becoming ourselves a code.”