Marat returns to the the people via Vik Muniz

The work of Brazilian-born artist Vik Muniz brings the career of revolutionary rabble-rouser Jean-Paul Marat to his rightful end.
According to an article by Carol Kino in the New York Times, Mr. Muniz’s art builds on his early experience in the tenements of Rio to give back to the people. As he explains in the documentary, “Waste Land,” Muniz aims to ennoble the catadores (garbage pickers) of Rio slums by creating classical portraits in their image. He models the portraits in his studio with their help, using garbage they have scavenged from a junkyard, and he pays them for their time and the materials. In the portrait featured here, we see Mr. Tião Santos, president of a workers’ cooperative (Association of Collectors of the Metropolitan Landfill of Jardim Gramacho), sitting in a bathtub like David’s “Death of Marat” (1793) awash in a sea of filthy clothes, plastic bottles and abandoned toilet seats. The $50,000 proceeds from this modern remake of David were donated by Mr. Muniz to the worker’s cooperative. What a perfect example of an artwork that meets–and gives new meaning–to life. Ashes to ashes, sewer to junkyard… L’ami du peuple would have been proud.


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