Mischievous Vik Muniz recalls label-swapping incident at MoMA

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The Brazilian artist Vik Muniz was in fine form during a lively discussion at The Arts Club in London marking his fourth solo exhibition, entitled Fotocubismo, at Ben Brown Fine Arts gallery (until 26 May). Muniz is known for working with detritus—recreating famous works from unconventional materials such as dust, sugar, chocolate and scrap metal. Fotocubismo features work from Muniz’s most recent Surfaces series, which “explores concepts of perception, reality, and representation while challenging traditional notions of materiality”, says a gallery statement.

During the talk with Tim Marlow, the director of London’s Design Museum, Muniz discussed how he navigates Cubism and looks to art history, saying: “You bump [along] a little bit and find your way around things. It’s not about what you do but how you make people [feel] in front of the work.” The mischief-making maverick also recalled the time he replaced labels at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, adding his own spoof titles to key works. The cheeky ruse was all about “claiming authorship”, he said, “and about changing rules in your favour”. The best thing was seeing how people reacted. “We’d go to MoMA just to see students writing our name—and those labels stayed up for two weeks!” Muniz quipped.

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