Wasteland

My husband and I saw a most amazing documentary last night - Wasteland - based on the work of the artist Vik Muniz and his portraits of the catadores of the Jardim Gramacho of Rio de Janeiro.

A little background - - -

Jardim Gramacho is the largest landfill in the world located in Rio de Janeiro - receiving over 7000 tons of garbage daily from neighboring communities.

Catadores are the pickers of that landfill - they pick anything and everything that has recycling value, and then broker their finds to provide an income for their families. Most live adjacent to the landfill - - - the images of the landfill in the movie are so poignant you find yourself bracing for the inevitable smell which the movie spares you.

Muniz created his portraits with the help of the catadores that his portraits depict - - - out of trash and recyclables. His method is captivating - a physical and emotional experience for the catadores and on-lookers alike. The dialogue is powerful and visceral as the politics of the Jardim Gramacho are revealed. The result of his artistic endeavor had / has far reaching social implications for the catadores - - - it is so compelling. If you have the opportunity to see Wasteland I highly recommend it.

Here is one of his portraits in the creation stage - a photographic image is projected onto the floor. From that projected image the catadores use castoff refuse to re-create that image in collage form. The website for the movie is excellent and provides a wealth of information on not only Muniz's artistic approach, but all of the politics involved.