Juan Muñoz Many Times (detail) 1999

Juan Muñoz
Many Times (detail) 1999
Private collection © The estate of Juan Muñoz
Photo © Musée De Grenoble, Jean Luc Lacroix

Many Times 1999 comprises 100 figures, identically dressed and with similar features, all modelled on an Art Nouveau ceramic bust of a head with Asian features that Muñoz discovered in a hotel. They form a dense crowd, closely interacting with each other, gathered in pairs or small circles and often apparently deep in conversation. Innumerable dramas seem to be played out among them as they appraise and respond to or sometimes ignore each other. The empty space of the gallery around and between individual figures is charged with the tensions created by the group.

It is likely that Muñoz felt that these monochrome faces would have a quality of ‘otherness’ to European eyes. But rather than present them as specimens of the ‘exotic’, the scale of the work and the sheer number of figures means that the outnumbered viewer is more likely to feel his or her own sense of strangeness and isolation among them. As Muñoz once said, ‘The spectator becomes very much like the object to be looked at, and perhaps the viewer has become the one who is on view’.