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    Volverse aire / María A. Iovino
    Oscar Muñoz : Volverse aire. -- Bogotá, Colombia : Ediciones Eco, 2003
    p. [12]-79 : ill.
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Iovino, María A. "Volverse aire." In Oscar Muñoz: Volverse aire, [12]- 79. Bogotá, Colombia: Ediciones Eco, 2003.

In the book Volverse aire [Become Air], published in 2003, María Iovino describes and analyzes Óscar Muñoz’s work from his early stages as a draftsman to the works produced the year the book was published in Bogotá. Special attention is paid to works created after 1986 which, in Iovino’s view, represent the mature phase of Muñoz’s production. The introduction to the volume is by Colombian curator, critic, and art historian Carmen María Jaramillo. She asserts that Iovina’s text provides a “comprehensive vision” of Muñoz’s production, which is based on thinking born of close observation and study of the image. Iovino presents the artist in context: first in Cali, Colombia, an urban setting in which Muñoz began to develop his creative process; later, in terms of certain historical and socio-cultural references important to the materialization of his ideas; and finally in relation to the dialogue between Muñoz and the Grupo de Cali and Colombian artists like Fernell Franco and Ever Astudillo. Significantly, Iovino discusses every single work, and the specific way it had been conceived and produced.


Critic, researcher, and curator María Iovino (born 1961) began working on the project “Volverse aire” in Colombia, after years of permanent dialogue with Óscar Muñoz (born 1951). The text discusses the factors that gave rise to a body of work that reflects on representation and the image on the basis of observation of reality not only in mundane situations, but also in the midst of the violence that beset cities like Cali during the bipartisan conflict and, later (in the 1980s), with the rise of the drug cartels.


Muñoz’s projects are often ephemeral and immaterial; they reflect on life and death by means of elements that cannot be grasped, mostly water and air. Iovino’s discussion encompasses Cortinas de baño [Shower Curtains] (1985), Narcisos [Narcissi] (1994–2002), Ambulatorio [Ambulatory] (1994–1995), Aliento [Breath] (1995), Simulacros [Simulacra] (1999), Lacrimarios [Lachrymaries] (2000–01), Biografías [Biographies] (2002), as well as other works by Muñoz.  


Of all the texts that have been published in Colombia on Óscar Muñoz’s work, Volverse Aire is the only one that, partly due to its length, provides a thorough overview of the artist’s career. This text offers a succinct interpretation of Muñoz’s best-known works thus far (he is still active on the art scene). Since 2003, he has worked on projects that address longstanding concerns such as memory, identity, existence itself, and the eternal return. The pace of Muñoz’s production as an artist, though, has tapered off because he now works extensively in the fields of cultural administration both in Colombia and abroad.


Iovino has studied work by Muñoz, who was born in Popayán, along with that of other widely recognized Colombian  artists such as Fernell Franco (1942–2005), Miguel Ángel Rojas (born 1946), and José Alejandro Restrepo (born 1959). On the basis of close observation of their creative processes, Iovino has been able to forge a common vision of their works, one grounded on the specific nature of their respective productions. In 2007, Iovino carried out a curatorial research project entitled Contratextos [Countertexts] (2007–08) that consisted of a traveling exhibition featuring those four artists and a rereading of their work. Photography and video figured prominently in that show.

Erika Martínez Cuervo
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of María Iovino, Bogotá, Colombia