Seeing Through Photographs
Current time:0:00Total duration:3:30
Vik Muniz | Equivalents (The Museum of Modern Art)
When you look at a picture with a certain degree of ambiguity, your perception heightens it, and you try to figure it out from all kinds of possible references. You don't know what it is, and you are completely open to any kind of way of thinking about it. When I knew that The Museum of Modern Art was organizing Stieglitz at Lake George, I went to see it in an afternoon. That show got me in a mood of looking for things in things, which is something that you do when you look at clouds one way or another. And the beautiful thing about Stieglitz's Equivalents is the fact that you're always seeing forms in clouds, in the Equivalents you don't. You just see clouds. I just saw the show, and right after leaving it you had these amazing marble floors. I kept thinking about clouds, and when I left, I looked at the floor, and I saw all these clouds, and then I took the camera and I started shooting the clouds right there, and this whole thing... I remember, I used to work there. I was there, I remember those floors well. And then what I did, I went to the gift shop, and I got a piece of paper to draw and a little pair of scissors, and I made these little round things that looked like the moon, and I started shooting it there. And a security guy came and tried to ask me what I was doing, and I said, “No, I'm just taking pictures of the floor.” And then he was like, “Ah, you cannot do this.” I said, “Why not, I'm just taking pictures of the floor. I mean, people take pictures of the artworks and you don't mind.” And I went out to the street, I came back, and I shot like four rolls of film. I wanted to make something that looked just like a Stieglitz but then it was just the floor of the museum in front of the exhibition where a Stieglitz was. When you're dealing with something that seems familiar to you, it's great because first of all you're open to it, and you look at it as something that you want to see again. But then there's this double-take. You realize that that is not what you thought it was. That feeling is quite effective in creating a lasting impression and starting a conversation. And before you know it, you're implicated in a series of questions about what's in front of you. You're not just looking at something, you're actually thinking about the way you're looking at something. This is the kind of interaction that I want my works to have with the viewer. When you think of photographs as processes, not as products, you start really understanding what they really mean. My mother came to one of my shows, and the first time she stepped into a museum was to see one of my exhibitions, so I make work for her. If she won't like it, I don't think it's good. Maybe I am one of these artists that don't take any pride for not being understood and being ahead of my time. I'm right here right now, and I want people to get it or to feel at least something because I make work in a way, I don't make it for any specific public, and it has something for everybody.