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Conversation Piece (Hirshhorn)
Resin and sand
Dimensions: 170.5 x 191 x 124 cm
Three characters are engaged in a heated argument. Two of them seem to be cornering the third. One, almost on top of him, is staring him in the face, whilst making an obscene gesture with his right hand. The life-size figures are an unusual hybrid of person and sack, three tumbler dolls whose heavy spherical bases -a pedestal integrated into the figure, inseparable from its own body- raise the problems of the conventions of stability, lack of balance and motor functions. This sculpture group with its accomplished timelessness commemorates nothing, points out nothing except the permanent human interaction. The scene, which is pure frozen slice of everyday life, has no reference other than its belonging to the present, to the spectator's own life continuum, while he -in an extraordinary inversion-, turned into the unwanted guest, witnesses a situation which, although it is taking place at a distance from and indifferent to his gaze, catches his attention and demands to be translated, interpreted. The Conversation Pieces, which Muñoz began to work on in 1991, are a decisive step in his investigation into the relations between sculpture and space and mark an evolution from the contained theatricality of his room-stages towards the experience -distinctly more narrative, even when the content of the narration remains opaque- of their exterior location, such as the works done for Documenta IX, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin or large architectural environments, such as his Plaza, presented at the Palacio de Velázquez in Madrid in 1996. The central place of the human figure in Muñoz's universe reaches its apogee in this series. His clear return to it is one of his essential contributions to contemporary sculpture: the figure, not at the service of realism, nor owing any debt to the canonic images of the media, but holding up a mirror to the polymorphic crisis of the body and the subject at the turn of the century. This group of figures is the seed of another work, done in bronze from the moulds and with several more figures, now installed in the Sculpture Garden at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.
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