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Waste Land
1986
Linoleum, wood and bronze
Dimensions: 700 x 500 cm
Reference: ACF0435
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In a room whose tiles repeat a geometrical motif which creates optical illusions of vanishing points and instability, a bronze ventriloquist's dummy, its legs hanging down, is perched on a low wooden wall or plinth. Everything in the scene—the altered perception of the floor; the gift of the word and its impossible simultaneity implicit in the dummy; the motionless passage of time that turns its smile into a grotesque rictus—helps to generate an imprecise sensation full of foreboding. By introducing changes into the pattern of the floor or placing the dummy on a shelf anchored to the wall at the back, Muñoz did a number of works with the same title, although he destroyed most of them: "It's a wonderful conceptual problem. I'm going to do it again. But the piece as such never comes back to life. Moreover, it isn't new, it's a variation on an old work. […] Is it a representation of this piece or just a variation on it? It's a difficult riddle to solve." In the piece in the ”la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art, the plinth breaks up the hypnotic continuity of the floor, creating a hidden zone, a behind that seems to hint at another presence or a possible action while heightening the idea of a theatrical space, a latent drama that involves the spectator. So, along with the reference to the poem of the same title—"When you read Eliot you have the feeling that it is a voice in an empty room"—the work also contains echoes of Beckett or Pirandello: characters waiting, a suspended situation, the fruitless potentiality of the word. The floors have peculiar optical designs, which become one of his signs of identity; they are the result of his interest in the site for the work and his rethinking of the role of the pedestal—"I wanted to make a real object, not an object that supplants reality. […] It was also the element needed to place the figure"—which, expanded, is superimposed (as the map is superimposed on the country in Borges' story) on the floor, which is both the work and the site for the work. Waste Land introduces us to one of the main lines of Muñoz's work: his exploration of that territory where strangeness infiltrates normality and reveals its dislocation. Here, through that reflection with a feigned voice that is the dummy, which is also both a real object and a representation; in later works, through the effigy of the dwarf, an individual condemned by a problem of shape to inhabit the terrible waste land of difference.

Other artworks in the Collection by the same artist Other artworks in the Collection by the same artist

  • Conversation Piece (Hirshhorn) / 1995

  • Astrolabe for the North of the Storm / 1985

  • For the North of the Storm III / 1985

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