Born Vicente José de Oliveira Muniz in São Paulo, Brazil in 1961, Vik Muniz belonged to a working-class family and as a young man was shot in the leg whilst trying to break up a fight. He ended up using the compensation he received for his injuries to fund a trip to New York City, where he has lived and worked since the late 1980s. He began his career as a sculptor but gradually became more interested in photographic reproductions of his work, eventually turning his attention exclusively to photography.

Muniz is an influential contemporary Brazilian artist best known for his complex photographic works. He incorporates a multiplicity of unlikely materials into this photographic process. Often working in series, Vik has used dirt, diamonds, sugar, string, chocolate syrup and garbage to create bold, witty and often deceiving images drawn from the pages of photojournalism 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; it was here that Vik first exhibited his “Pictures of Garbage Series” in Brazil.

Sourcing a wide variety of eclectic and found materials—chocolate, jelly, toys, and trash—Muniz recreates iconic art historical works and scenes from popular culture. By displaying the final piece as a photograph, he explores memory, perception, and the nature of images as represented in arts and communication.

In 2010, the artist starred in the documentary film Waste Land tracked the course of his project Pictures of Garbage (2008). The series of large-scale images was created with the help of catadores—the people who scour Rio’s sizable trash dump for recyclable materials. Muniz was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for his social activism, and the artist has had his work exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London, and the Centre National de la Photographie in Paris, among others.

A photographer and self-described ‘low-tech illusionist’ Muniz has lectured at Harvard, Yale, the TED Conference and nearly every place where people are interested in creative concepts, and his work has been featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine and filled the pages of countless other publications. Waste Land, the documentary film about his art project in a Brazilian trash dump, won the 2010 Sundance Audience Award for Best Film and was nominated for an Academy Award

Muniz currently lives and works between Brooklyn NY and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.