More than twenty million items were lost in last September’s fire at Brazil’s National Museum, which housed Latin America’s largest anthropology and natural history collection. As archaeologists and paleontologists sift through the rubble, the U.S. Department of State and the Smithsonian have offered fourteen on the scientists, who were displaced by the fire, the opportunity to use the Smithsonian’s labs to continue their work. The global community, including governments and cultural organizations, have pledged to help to rebuild the museum.
Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, who was very outspoken about the lack of government funding and concern about Brazil’s cultural institutions, is also working with Brazil’s National Museum, to recreate relics that were destroyed in the fire, relics that will be shown to benefit rescue efforts for the museum.
Trash to Treasure
Since his 2010 documentary Waste Land (where he hired garbage pickers at the world’s largest landfill located just outside of Rio de Janeiro to make art) earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature, Muniz has been curating exhibitions and creating art in his studios in Rio and Clinton Hill in Brooklyn.
He curated Glasstress in Murano, Italy, an exhibit that features works, in glass, by leading contemporary artist from around the world. The exhibit opened in May and will continue through November 24, 2019.
Vik Muniz Sculpture in London
Muniz is also participating in this year’s Frieze Sculpture fair, which is currently holding the largest free exhibit of outdoor art in London. His work is displayed, along with the works of twenty other artists, in Regent’s Park.
His contribution to the fair is Mnemonic Vehicle No.2, a giant sculpture of a Jaguar E-type Matchbox car, complete with scrapes and dings and all the signs of wear and tear that come with playing with a favorite toy. “The piece is a perfect reconstruction of a Matchbox from my childhood,” he said, “that I found in a drawer on the scale of the real car and the same materials.”
Vik Muniz Saints at Arles
For the last fifty years, photographers in France have been exhibiting their work at the Recontres D’Arles. Ansel Adams was the first American photographer to be invited to exhibit in 1974, and the inclusion of world renown photographers has been part of the program ever since.
This year, the exhibit includes nineteen photographs of Muniz’s, which depict saints as painted by the Masters, like Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness, after Caravaggio.
Each work is a detailed collage, made of everyday objects, like buttons, sugar, torn paper, which Muniz creates and photographs. The work will be on display through September 29, 2019.
Vik Muniz at VFA
Vik Muniz use of everything from chocolate to trash in his works, led to his commission of Kate Moss, done in fake blood for Brazilian Vogue. Kate and other works, in other medium, by Vik Muniz are available at VFA.
Meilan Solly. Around 2,000 Artifacts Have Been Saved From the Ruins of Brazil’s National Museum Fire. smithsonian.com. February 15, 2019.
Ann Binlot. Vik Muniz, the Brooklyn artist giving Brazil’s destroyed relics new life. Document Journal. May 21, 2019.