Arts, Advocacy & Reach

Throughout this course (so far) I have been introduced to arts and media under a different shade, rather shocking and conceptual pieces that challenge my mind and pose questions  pertaining to why arts ? Though I have no background in the Arts field academically, professionally or even culturally I am gradually finding myself appreciating how arts is a venting tool that may heal societies, and address current pressing issues.  Having said so, I also realize that arts cannot be treated as an island or singled out in a manner where it’s expected to operate solely.

Another angle into arts, I believe, is creating advocacy , public engagement, spreading the word which also comes with a special eye that looks into aspects such as budgets, sponsorship, supporters, safety and security as well as education.  I find myself interested in this area where mechanisms and strategies are made enabling the wheel of arts to move forward.

After seeing the documentary “Waste Land”, I have recently been following *Vik Muniz the Brazilian artist featured in the documentary. Vik who’s a photographer uses unconventional materials in displaying his photos such dust, garbage, chocolate syrup and sugar. In “Waste Land”, he took dramatic photos of his subjects and then asked them to remake the photos from garbage. As a result one of the photos was auctioned in the UK for $50,000 which was injected to the landfill workers association. Also another interesting photography  project he did was taking photos of children in a sugar cane plantation , where the end result were portraits made out of sugar symbolizing that how the sweet product isn’t so sweet to these children after all.

Waste Land Trailer

Vik-Muniz-Valentine-The-Fastest picture07_Tiao_at_JG_Waste-Land-HIGH FilmLead-WasteLand-570

The key element in Vik’s approach is how he engages his subjects in the process of making a unique piece of art. This was very evident in “Waste Land”.  Through these engagements the stars of his pieces learned more about arts, through arts they were given a voice to communicate their concerns. By the end of the project these people felt very confident to represent themselves to media and publicly engaged with news outlets, Tv shows and exhibition visitors and have had the courage to change their lives drastically. 

I am very impressed with the model Vik created to feature his works and how it became a global product rather than issues limited only to Brazil.  In due course I am very interested in investigating Vik Muniz  framework, what makes it successful? How did he reach out to international communities? what differentiates his works from others? Arts , a public property or a commercial product or both? Giving back to society, an obligation or genuine passion? What is the life span for his projects and are they sustainable?  In light of this investigation I would also like to research the role of advocacy in channeling Latin American/Guatemalan arts and if Vik Muniz model could be replicated.

“I’m the Hugo Chaves of art world; I want to make something populist, to make something that anybody has access to” Vik Muniz

As for the Guatemalan artists submissions I find myself gravitated towards two projects Sitio-sena and Los Cuatro Elementos (Fire, Earth, Air, Water). Since my interest is inspired by Vik’s Muniz work I can’t help but see that both projects resemble Vik’s work stylistically  in using unique materials in portraying a certain vision.  I am very interested in meeting with these artists and learn more about their thoughts and vision and to possibly to compare their previous artistic works to the ones they will submit to the New School taking into account the lessons learned from previous projects. What I would like to add to these projects (if possible) is how to translate these efforts into a wider audience by making it more relevant ? 

Through the platform of arts I have seen great examples of dealing with issues of social justice, healing distorted historical memories but most importantly I am seeing a  two way dialogue between artists and viewers where together they try to reflect, reshape and reveal a true image of a past or current reality. 

An Interesting Fact:

It’s been said that Vik’s exhibition had the largest turn up in history which made it come second to Picasso. Not only that the exhibition lasted for few years but also the advocacy campaign is still running.

Vik Muniz (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈvik muˈnis]; born in 1961, São Paulo, Brazil)[1] is a Brazilian artist and photographer. Initially a sculptor, Muniz grew interested with the photographic representations of his work, eventually focusing completely on photography. Primarily working in series, Muniz incorporates the use of quotidian objects such as diamonds, sugar, thread, chocolate syrup and garbage in his practice to create bold, ironic and often deceiving imagery, gleaned from the pages of pop culture and art history. His work has been met with both commercial success and critical acclaim, and has been exhibited worldwide. His solo show at MAM in Rio de Janeiro was second only to Picasso in attendance records. 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.[2][3] – Wikipedia

Resources  to consider:


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