Oscar Muñoz
Hasselblad Award Winner 2018

The Hasselblad Foundation is pleased to announce that Colombian artist Oscar Muñoz is the recipient of the 2018 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography for the sum of SEK 1,000,000 (approx. USD 125,000). The award ceremony takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden on October 8, 2018. A symposium will be held on October 9, followed by the opening of an exhibition of Oscar Muñoz’s work at the Hasselblad Center, and the release of a new book about the artist, published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König.


The Foundation’s citation regarding the Hasselblad Award Laureate 2018, Oscar Muñoz:

»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. His sculptural installations unite
the light-sensitive characteristics of photography and moving image with elements such as water, charcoal, drawings and projections. He ingeniously devises experimental strategies that evoke the transience of the image and
its transfiguration in time and space. Oscar Muñoz’s work is imbued with an otherworldly quality and offers a metaphor for the human condition.«


The Hasselblad Award Jury which submitted its proposal to the Hasselblad Foundation’s Board of Directors, consisted of:


Mark Sealy, Chair

Curator and Director, Autograph ABP, London


Marta Gili

Director, Jeu de Paume, Paris


Paul Roth

Director, Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto


Bisi Silva

Founder and Artistic Director, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos


Hripsimé Visser

Curator of Photography, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam



»Oscar Muñoz is one of the most significant contemporary artists in Latin America. His works revolve around time and memory, subjects that are central to photography. 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,« note Louise Wolthers and Dragana Vujanović Östlind, curators of the Hasselblad Award exhibition.


»In an era of increasing global political uncertainty and heightened states of human anxiety the works of Oscar Muñoz serve to remind us of just how fragile we are. Across the incredible range of work that Oscar Muñoz has produced what is evident is that he is determined for us not to forget the episodes in history that so often get culturally and politically erased,« states Mark Sealy, Chair of the Hasselblad Award Jury 2018.


»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. I also feel gratitude for the honour that is granted to me, which encourages me to keep working with intensity and passion,« says Oscar Muñoz, Hasselblad Award Laureate 2018.


Video footage of Oscar Muñoz courtesy of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; all works © Oscar Muñoz.


Oscar Muñoz Biography

Oscar Muñoz (born in Popayán, Colombia, 1951) studied art at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Cali, Colombia in the 1970s. As an art student, he began making drawings based on photographic images and, although his studies did not specifically include photography or audio-visual media, these media and their relationships to reality and meaning making have subsequently become central to his artistic practice.


Muñoz is known for his use of ephemeral and unconventional materials in investigations of the photographic image and reflections upon memory and mortality. For example, in the installation Cortinas de baño (1985–1986) images are transferred via silkscreen to wet shower curtains, preventing a perfect fixation and producing almost ghostlike figures. Water is a consistent element in Muñoz’s work, such as in the emblematic Narcisos (1995), where a self-portrait of charcoal dust is transferred onto a water surface, which eventually evaporates. Similarly, the video Re/trato (2004) shows the artist drawing a self-portrait with water on hot pavement, but as the water makes contact with the pavement, the portrait vanishes. In other portraiture works Muñoz uses coffee stained sugar cubes (Pixeles, 1999–2000) and cigarette burns (Intervalos (mientras respiro), 2004).

During the 1980s and 1990s, Colombia was heavily afflicted by the war between feuding drug cartels and the Colombian government, and this is
a significant context for Muñoz’s work. His installation Ambulatorio (1994) consists of a large aerial photograph of the city of Cali printed on a sheet
of security glass. As viewers walk on the glass floor, looking at the city from above, the glass shatters. The work was inspired by a bombing in Cali.


Muñoz addresses cycles of life and death through the photographic process of appearance and disappearance, such as in the work Aliento (1995–2002), which consists of a series of seemingly blank mirrors. However, when the viewer comes close to them and breathes on them, subtle obituary portraits emerge momentarily on the surface. In the video Sedimentaciones (2011), an archive of photographic portraits are constantly developed and dissolved. Other related works, such as Editor Solitario (2011) and El Coleccionista (2016), also point to the political memory and construction of history.


In 2005, Muñoz founded Lugar a dudas (space for doubts), a cultural centre and residency program for artists, located in Cali. It has become a place for young artists to meet, work and participate in the public debate about art and politics.


Oscar Muñoz lives and works in Cali, Colombia. He has exhibited extensively throughout Latin America since the 1970s. A retrospective exhibition of his work was shown at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, 2014. His first solo exhibition in Sweden took place at Bildmuseet, Umeå, 2009. Oscar Muñoz’s works are part of private and public collections, including Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Bogotá, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, Tate Modern, London, and Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zurich, Switzerland, to name a few.


About the Hasselblad Foundation

The Hasselblad Foundation was established in 1979 under the terms of the last will and testament of Erna and Victor Hasselblad. The purpose of the Foundation is to promote education and research in photography and the natural sciences. The Foundation’s annual international award for outstanding achievements in photography is considered one of the most prestigious photography awards worldwide.


The Foundation holds a photography collection focusing on Hasselblad Award Winners and Nordic photographers. The Hasselblad Center is the Foundation’s exhibition space, situated in the Gothenburg Museum of Art. Further stipends for photographic advancement are awarded each year, and the Foundation itself is actively engaged in the field of academic and artistic research through the publication of books, organization of symposiums, and collaborations with Swedish and international universities.