The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
'Balcony' by the Spanish artist Juan Muñoz is a small iron balcony attached high up on the wall. It is often combined with another work by Muñoz, 'Listening figure'. This is a rocking bronze character who is listening with his ear against the wall. The character behaves like a person, although you can see immediately that it is not an “ordinary” person. He is smaller and his legs are replaced by a hemisphere.
Muñoz usually creates works consisting of different elements in which the space around and between these elements plays an important role. Initially he often paints the floor of the gallery where he places his objects so that it becomes part of the work. In 'Listening figure with Balcony', the wall has the same sort of function, even though it is not painted. Through this wall, the whole exhibition gallery is involved in the work. In a sense, a visitor who enters this space also becomes part of it. However, at the same time, he remains at a distance, not literally, but metaphorically. Muñoz’s figures do not actually communicate with the viewer; they are engrossed in their own affairs. Muñoz’s figures seem to record a moment in a particular event. The viewer does not know what has happened or what is going to happen, but it is clear that something is going on.
Muñoz aims to bring about a feeling of tension and uncertainty in the viewer, confronting him with a recognizable but not quite realistic scene. He plays around with the concepts of presence and absence, proximity and distance. The figure that is physically present in Listening figure does not face the viewer. Someone could appear on the empty balcony. The visitor is present at the scene, but cannot participate in what is happening; he can only guess at it. In this way, Muñoz gives the viewer the opportunity to interpret the work in his own way.
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