Contemporary artist and photographer Vik Muniz was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1961 and splits his time between New York and Rio de Janeiro. Originally a sculptor, Muniz was intrigued by photographic representations of his work and shifted his focus toward photography. He is known for using unusual everyday materials, such as sugar, car parts, and chocolate syrup, to reconstruct images.
Perfect Strangers, Vik’s public art installation commissioned by the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Arts & Design for the 72nd Street/Second Avenue subway station, opened on December 31, 2016. Earlier in the year, a comprehensive retrospective of Vik’s work was presented at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; he also became the first living artist to have a solo exhibition at the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague. Past exhibitions have taken place in museums such as The Long Museum West Bund, Shanghai; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Moscow House of Photography; Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro; and the International Center of Photography, New York.
Besides his artistic activities, Vik is involved in educational and social projects in Brazil and the U.S. His documentary Waste Land (2010) was nominated for an Oscar and won the Sundance Audience Award for Best Film. In 2011, UNESCO named him a Goodwill Ambassador, and in January 2013, he received the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum. In 2014, Vik started building Escola Vidigal, a school of art and technology for low-income children from the Vidigal community in Rio de Janeiro. In 2015, he was invited to the Gates Foundation global project, The Art of Saving a Life, with the project Colonies. The following year, he was a creative director of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games opening ceremony.
Vik’s works are included in the collections of major international museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
He has been a guest speaker at major universities, museums and events, including Oxford, Harvard, Yale, TED Talks, the World Economic Forum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, among others, and has completed residency programs at MIT and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in New York.