Oscar Muñoz (b. 1951)
Sedimentaciones (2011)
In Sedimentaciones, the process of birth, life and death of the image becomes an allegory for the cycle of life shared by all humans. Three videos show darkroom tables on which we see arrangements of small photographic portraits in various stages of development as the artist manipulates them; he picks them up and moves them; he dissolves them into dregs, and creates them anew from those same sediments. The very instability of the portraits as they appear, reappear and are destroyed, speaks to the power of the photographic image to fix identity, and to alter and erase it. The artist’s hand acts in a seemingly random and indifferent manner, underlining the role of time and fate to fix the ultimate disappearance of both image and subject.

Sedimentaciones refers to the many manifestations of portraiture in the history of photography, from the personal and private, such as remembrance and memento mori, to the official and public, including identification for legal and political use. Colliding with the tender, almost corporeal presence of the images is the knowledge that their shuffling and disappearance is also a political act, wherein persons and lives are lost in the larger machinations and movements of war and cultural and societal shifts and disruptions. Muñoz refers specifically to the armed conflicts in Colombia since the 1980s, and their tremendous effects on the lives of Colombians, although he could be equally referring to any area of the world and any historical era.