Colombian artist Oscar Muñoz has won the 2018 Hasselblad Award in Photography, which recognizes major achievements in the field. He will receive $125,000 and will mount a show at the Hasselblad Center in Gothenburg, Sweden, this fall. An award ceremony celebrating the artist will take place on October 8.
“I keep stumbling over the same feelings of disbelief and joy while thinking that my work will join that of the distinguished artists who have received the Hasselblad Award before,” Muñoz said in a statement. Born in Popayán, Colombia, in 1951, Muñoz studied art at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Cali, Colombia, in the 1970s. He is best known for his use of unconventional materials and his frequent reflections upon memory and mortality.
Among his many works are the installation Cortinas de Baño (Bathroom Curtains), 1985–86, which consists of ghostlike figures made from images transferred via silkscreen to wet shower curtains; Narcisos (Daffodils), 1995, in which a self-portrait of charcoal dust is transferred onto a water surface and eventually evaporates; and Ambulatorio (Ambulatory), 1994, an installation that features a large aerial photograph of the city of Cali printed on a sheet of shattered security glass. The piece was the first of many that would be inspired by political events that have transpired in Colombia.
In 2005, Muñoz founded Lugar a Dudas (Space for Doubts), a cultural center and residency program for artists. Located in Cali, the venue has become a place for emerging artists to meet, work, and collaborate. A retrospective of his work was staged at the Jeu de Paume in Paris in 2014. Today, Muñoz’s art can be found in the collections of the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate Modern in London, and the Daros Latinamerica Collection in Zurich, among others.
Chaired by Mark Sealy, curator and director of Autograph ABP in London, the prize’s jury comprised Marta Gili, director of Jeu de Paume in Paris; Paul Roth, director Ryerson Image Center in Toronto; Bisi Silva, founder and artistic director at the Center for Contemporary Art in Lagos; and Hripsimé Visser, curator of photography at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
“The passing of time, the whims of history, and the disintegration of the image constitute the core research of Oscar Muñoz’s work, which calls into question the reliability of the photographic medium,” the Hasselblad Foundation said in a statement. Louise Wolthers and Dragana Vujanović Östlind, the curators of the Hasselblad Award exhibition, added: “Oscar Muñoz is one of the most significant contemporary artists in Latin America . . . He uses ephemeral materials and engages the viewer in installations that explore existential and political questions, often referring to the recent history of Colombia. We are looking forward to an intriguing exhibition to accompany the Hasselblad Award.”