Khyber Pass, Self-Portrait as an Oriental, After Rembrandt, from the Pictures of Junk series
Brazilian–American, born 1961
Muniz creates what he calls “photographic delusions,” combining his skilled draftsmanship with photography to create hybrid images that capture one medium in the matrix of another. His images defy easy classification, exploiting the viewer’s tendency to draw quick conclusions about what we think we see. He cites the disparate influences of abstract art, optical illusion, sight gags, and photorealist paintings as the primary sources for his artistic practice. Muniz employs a wide array of unconventional materials to create his art—soil, sugar, tomato sauce, chocolate syrup, candy, dust, cotton balls, and thread often reinterprets iconic works from art history. His finished photographs exist as new interpretations of the absent originals, synthesizing the many elements of his artistic process into a single structure.
“Khyber Pass, Self-Portrait as an Oriental, After Rembrandt” is an elaborate arrangement of hundreds of pieces of trash and discarded objects, gathered from the slums and dumps of Rio de Janeiro. Muniz assembled them on the floor of a deserted aircraft hanger, creating a giant, multi-dimensional sculpture, which he then photographed in bird’s-eye view from a crane. The photograph functions simultaneously as a record of Muniz’s painstaking process of design and assembly and as a clever allusion to the art historical source that inspired it.