WORST POSSIBLE ILLUSION: The Curiosity Cabinet of Vik Muniz

The Curiosity Cabinet

The Film

Photo of Vik in the middle of the road setting up a shot
Vik at work. Photo: Coke Wisdom O'Neal
“Vik Muniz might be billed as a photographer, and photographs are generally the end product of his work. But in another age he might have been an alchemist, transforming base lead into refined gold.” 
—Mark Magill, BOMB Magazine

Otherwise known as one of the art world’s rising young stars, the Brazilian artist invites viewers on a tour of his life, work and mind in WORST POSSIBLE ILLUSION: The Curiosity Cabinet of Vik Muniz. The documentary follows Vik on a whimsical, world-hopping journey from his studio in Brooklyn, New York; to his native Brazil for a visit to his grandmother; to Chicago, his first home in the United States where he worked as a gas-station attendant and pushed carts in a grocery store; to Arizona, where he creates a gigantic bone "excavation" in the desert and goes to extraordinary lengths to capture it on film.

Artwork: Chocolate drawing of actor Bela Lugosi, as Dracula, taking a bite of a woman's neck, by Vik Muniz.
Bela Lugosi from Pictures of Chocolate,
by Vik Muniz

“Where to begin? The time our producer was trapped by an armed gunman? The French museum authorities who thought I was a stalker? The fear, the doubt, the exhaustion? The exhilaration, the excitement, the many lessons learned?”

Read more excerpts from Anne-Marie Russell’s production journal

Vik, who grew up under harsh political regimes in Brazil, learned early on that the safest way to communicate was through coded language. As a child he became fascinated with image and perception, and the role of the magician. His work embodies the notion that appearances may be deceiving. Using everyday objects and materials, he constructs works of art that fool the eye: sculptures of wire that look like line drawings of flowers; paintings made of thread that resemble charcoal drawings. Other favorite materials include chocolate syrup (Vik waxes poetic about Bosco, his favorite brand with which to paint). In creating works of a particularly serious nature, he uses sugar on black paper to create haunting portraits of the faces of Caribbean children whose parents work on plantations harvesting sugar cane.

In recent years, his one-man show at the Whitney Museum of American Art and his photography book, Seeing Is Believing (which made both The New York Times and the Village Voice’s Top Ten lists of 1999), have further solidified his reputation as one of the most original and talented artists to emerge in the last decade. WORST POSSIBLE ILLUSION takes us beyond the celebrated works into the mind of an artist, capturing the thrill of creation, the mechanics of invention and the power of familiar images that Vik taps to create his groundbreaking illusions.

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