I stumbled across a photographer in last weeks New York Times. His name is Vik Muniz and he grew up in a dictatorship in Brazil. He now lives and works in New York. His work covers a lot of ground, and works in many different ways. The piece in the times talks about his series "Pictures of Garbage". In these, he went to a landfill in Brazil and hired "catadores" (informal work force) to sort through trash to make his images. They come out strangely familiar, as he remakes classic images. He combines sculpture, drawing and photography in these pieces. In the top photo, he remakes Death of Marat by David. He draws himself in and places himself amid the trash of the landfill. The second photo is from his series "Sugar Children". He went to a sugar plantation and photographed children of the workers. He took the poloroids and then "drew" the children with the sugars he had brought home. The final pieces are photographs of these drawings. The trash series engages viewers in a discussion about our overfilled landfills in Brazil, and around the world. He also is making commentary about the lowly workers of Brazil and their station in that world. I thought at first that he was taking advantage, but he paid them due wages and also gave to a charity that helps these workers.
His work really forces me to think about photography in a way that has been recently been on my mind. It seems like Muniz is more likely to use the photograph as a vehicle for a final product, rather than hanging the original print. In all of his work, photography is integral but not necessarily what the viewer ends up viewing.