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In his manuscript titled Eclipse—the name of the installation he was working on at the time—Óscar Muñoz recorded brief observations on how eclipses were interpreted in certain cultures, myths, and historical periods. This was the subject of the installation Muñoz was working on for the Galería Santa Fe (at the District Planetarium in Bogotá) as his submission for the Luis Caballero Prize that year (it was actually submitted the following year, 2004). In his description of the installation, Muñoz explains that fine beams of light enter through twelve holes, each measuring a centimeter in diameter, and are reflected in twelve concave mirrors. After describing his project, the Colombian artist once again briefly discusses his thoughts on a variety of readings and authors, on the meaning of the mirrors, and on the acts of speculating and considering, which refer to the astronomical-speculative role of the speculum in ancient times.      


Eclipse is the earliest of the handful of manuscripts written by the Colombian artist Óscar Muñoz (b. 1951) during the time when he was creating one of his major works. It is therefore a significant document in terms of understanding this particular sort of work as well as his overall conception. In addition to providing insights into Muñoz’s method for organizing his thoughts and linking his examination to the world of images, Eclipse explains the meaning of his earlier and subsequent works that explored in various ways the concept of reflection as a partial and definitive expression of reality and memory.  

In this text, Muñoz describes his work as he progresses from images captured in a photograph or preserved on a support to those that exist entirely in real time and space. As he has admitted in several interviews, he was profoundly influenced by the French philosopher Roland Barthes (1915–1980)—(see his interview with Diego Garzón, Otras voces, otro arte: conversaciones con diez artistas colombianos) [Other Voices, Other Art: Conversations with Ten Colombian Artists] (Bogotá: Planeta, 2005), doc. no. 855687;and with Hans-Michael Herzog, Cantos cuentos colombianos: arte colombiano contemporáneo [Colombian Story/Songs: Contemporary Colombia Art] (Zürich: Daros Latinamerica, 2004), doc. no. 860414). In Eclipse he attempted to use the installation to capture the image as it was being created; in other words, he tried to separate the “graphic” nature of the process from the “photo” itself (that is, from the light). 

That process—attempted as part of a project that involved the challenge to be increasingly more essential while simultaneously ramping up the expressive potential—was subsequently repeated in later works such as Retrato [Portrait] (2003), Proyecto para un memorial [Project for a Memorial] (2005), El Puente [The Bridge] (2005), and Línea del destino [Line of Destiny] (2006). In these works, as distinct from Eclipse, Muñoz once again experiments with water as an alternative medium with which to explore the concept of fleeting and intangible realities as well as what might in fact be real.


María Iovino Moscarella
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Oscar Muñoz, Cali, Colombia