Muniz at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in 2013
|Born||Vicente JosÃ© de Oliveira Muniz
(1961-12-20) December 20, 1961
|Known for||Visual art|
The really magical things are the ones that happen right in front of you. A lot of the time you keep looking for beauty, but it is already there. And if you look with a bit more intention, you see it.
Creativity is how we cope with creation. While creation sometimes seems a bit un-graspable, or even pointless, creativity is always meaningful.
My first job in Brazil was actually to develop a way to improve the readability of billboards, and based on speed, angle of approach and actually blocks of text. It was very – actually, it was a very good study, and got me a job in an ad agency. And they also decided that I had to – to give me a very ugly Plexiglas trophy for it.
Gramacho is the last landfill that allows people in. Brazil is the leading nation in recycling due to its poverty. There are people there surviving from what they find in the garbage.
My grandmother taught me how to read, very early, but she taught me to read just the way she taught herself how to read – she read words rather than syllables. And as a result of that, when I entered school, it took me a long time to learn how to write.
Drawing is not only a way to come up with pictures: drawing is a way to educate your eye to understand visual information, organizing it into a more hierarchical way, a more economical way. When you see something, if you draw often and frequently, you examine a room very differently.
I think most people have creative ideas and have very strange, unorthodox impulses of things that they can do with their lives. I’ve had many of these over the years, but I decided the more important question was, ‘When did I start calling this art?’
Who wouldn’t like to give up normal life? I mean, normal life, you know, is the second worst thing to death itself. I think normality is something that makes everything very static, and I try to make my days, my daily routines, as uneven and rich as possible.
I took the longest showers of my life after every time I visited Gramacho. It affects the personality of the catadores. They always dress really well, they’re very sharp, and when they go out they always wear a lot of perfume because they’re very conscious of the possibility of having the smell.
Garbage is the part of your history you don’t want your family to know about.
I’m a product of a military dictatorship. Under a dictatorship, you cannot trust information or dispense it freely because of censorship. So Brazilians become very flexible in the use of metaphors. They learn to communicate with double meanings.
The first five minutes in Gramacho is really overwhelming because all of your senses are being attacked. Visually, too, because your eyes move and see fragments of things you recognize, but not quite, so it’s very artistic. Your eyes are moving, then there’s the smell, and the noise is unbearable.
I’m at this point in my career where I’m trying to step away from the realm of fine arts, because I think it’s a very exclusive, very restrictive place to be. What I want to be able to do is to change the lives of people with the same materials they deal with every day.
I was born in Brazil and grew up in the ’70s under a climate of political distress, and I was forced to learn to communicate in a very specific way – in a sort of a semiotic black market. You couldn’t really say what you wanted to say; you had to invent ways of doing it. You didn’t trust information very much.
The first time I worked with colors was by making these mosaics of Pantone swatches. They end up being very large pictures, and I photographed with a very large camera – an 8×10 camera. So you can see the surface of every single swatch – like in this picture of Chuck Close. And you have to walk very far to be able to see it.