While I was away I saw an exhibition of Juan Munoz’s work at the (beautiful) Musee de Grenoble (left). One huge room was filled with his work Many Times (1999), 100 ceramic sculptures of male figures, all with the same laughing face. They were placed all around the room in groups, differing only in their gestures or postures. They looked like they were chatting amongst themselves, and some seemed to be laughing and smiling at others across the room. They are all grey, a little smaller than life size and have no feet! When I first walked into the room I was totally blown away by the sheer number and the size of the pieces. You can actually walk around them, amongst them, get right up close to them. It was kind of amusing, a room full of smiling little men. But after a while standing in there it started to feel quite strange. It was a little disquieting. It almost felt like they were all sharing a joke that you weren’t part of, or that you were the butt of even! A very strange feeling. It made me feel very isolated, as if they all knew something I didn’t, as though despite the fact that I was the one watching them, they were actually the ones observing me.
Unlike Antony Gormley’s Field, where the thousands of little eyes turned towards you seem friendly or needy, vulnerable or adoring, Munoz’s work seems almost to be mocking you, making you feel self conscious and uncertain, different and separate.
Luckily there was a patisserie right around the corner where I could run and recover with the help of a café au lait and a big chocolate croissant! In no time at all I was feeling the love again!