Re/trato (2004)

Oscar Muñoz
Single channel colour video, no dialogue
28 minutes
Collections of Fundación La Caixa, Barcelona; and Daros Collection, Zurich
Courtesy the artist and mor charpentier


Maya Watanabe introduces Re/trato (2004) by Oscar Muñoz:

I first saw Re/trato in Venice in 2005. Two years later, I encountered Project for a Memorial in the same city. Both works vanished from my memory for years, but as time passes, they redraw themselves in my memory once again.

These works are now engraved [in my memory]. I was born and raised in Peru, a country that shares with Colombia the terrible practice of forced disappearances during periods of political violence. I see these works as portraits of a disregarded collectivity that struggles to endure even as it seeks justice. Although the watery faces evaporate, they are still among us: we breathe them in. In between a subtle, volatile gesture and a strong, sharp political statement, Muñoz perseveres in the impossible endeavour to delineate an absence. He keeps drawing, he keeps lingering on the disappeared and we keep trying to find them, we keep bringing them to the present.’

About the film:
As the title suggests, Re/trato is a reflection on portraiture, but also on perseverance and commitment. The looped video shows the artist—laboriously and persistently—painting a self-portrait on a hot concrete sidewalk by using a brush and water. His hand paints continuously as the portrait evaporates, creating an endless drawing. The medium used (water) and the support (a concrete sidewalk heated by the sun) conspire against the permanence of this precarious face and work to erase the image in the very act of its construction. The brushstroke traces the features in a vain attempt to capture the face, to fix it once and for all, but the ephemeral image stubbornly disappears. As in the myth of Sisyphus, the hand performs impossible work knowing that the fruit of this effort will be lost, always returning to the starting point in a double act of frustration and tenacity.

This work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions, including 51st Venice Biennale (2005); Protografias, a major survey of Muñoz’s work presented at Museo Banco de la República, Bogotá (2011); Museo de Arte Latinoaméricano de Buenos Aires (2012); and Jeu de Paume, Paris (2014).

Screening and Booking Information

Re/trato (2004)
Oscar Muñoz
Experimental | 28 minutes
No dialogue

This screening is part of the Genealogies in the Middle East and Latin America project, which explores historical and contemporary relationships between artists from these two regions. It unfolds along narratives revealed by the artists' personal accounts that provide critical alternative perspectives and insights by decentralising dominant narratives, schools and paradigms produced and affirmed in the West.

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