As he has noted elsewhere, Oscar Muñoz is interested in "documenting a temporal scene, the logic of everyday thinking that is derived from the impossibility of retaining and fixing images permanently." Presence and absence, visibility and invisibility, and the changeable nature of time are all relevant to his conceptual practice.
The impossibility of fixing an image, in particular, is at the root of this series of self-portraits, Los Narcisos. The use of the self-portrait, an act of egotism openly acknowledged by the title, is central to the practice of the artist, sometimes from a need for self-representation, but more often from a practical perspective. The artist's own body is frequently the closest subject at hand. Muñoz takes up the ancient myth of Narcissus, eternally confined to a prison of his own making. The water, as an unpredictable and constantly changing surface traps the work, the face, the identity.
As the title belies, the portrait is not merely a representation of the surface of the self, but a deeper, intellectual, emotional and psychic investigation that is borne out through the sequential photos. Muñoz's constant interest in halting a single moment is realized here, featuring a variety of techniques including drawing, photography, and video. The work exists first as a drawing in charcoal dust that has been created on the surface of a sink full of water. We see his face not only in the charcoal bits but also repeated through the cast shadow at the bottom of the sink. Once the drain is opened, the artist's face becomes distorted as the charcoal dust is drawn down with the water. His features become garbled, deformed and ultimately turn into an abstracted series of lines.
Technology and the historic and traditional act of drawing are combined in this singular gesture that recognizes the centrality of line as well as the need for new mediums to render the notion of time into a visible element. As a kind of documentation of the ephemeral, we are given the opportunity to watch as the artist's drawing, his face, and the fleeting moment in time disappear before our eyes. The history of modernism is evoked through the Cubist-like portraits that result in several of the photographs. The face, seemingly split through the middle, becomes disjoined, awkward, just until the moment when it will disappear altogether.
Rocío Aranda Alvarado, curator, El Museo del Barrio, New York