Imagine using trash to fight poverty. Well, that’s exactly what Vik Muniz, a Brazilian artist based in Brooklyn, accomplished when he traveled to Jardim Gramacho, one of the largest garbage dumps in Brazil, and made art using the waste he found. His creations tell the remarkable story of turning nothing into something and, in this case, that “something” helped a huge group of people. Muniz ended up selling his creations for a whopping $50,000 and donated the proceeds back to the amazing people he met at the garbage dump.
This inspiring story is documented in “Waste Land,” an Oscar-nominated and award-winning documentary co-directed by João Jardim and Karen Harley, and photographed by Dudu Miranda. The film follows the evolution of his series, “Pictures of Garbage,” and exposes the daily work of the trash pickers in Jardim Gramacho.
To produce his masterpiece, Muniz photographed Tião, the leader of a trash-picking association at the garbage dump, in a discarded bathtub to reinvent Jacques Louis David’s, “The Death of Marat.” He then used other wasted materials to create an installation-like piece. The moment in which he sells his artwork and is able to give back to the people at the site is both moving and inspiring. It illustrates the power of art and the power of one individual to affect the lives of many.
Acclaimed as a, “a must see Cinderella story with true grit,” by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, it’s clear this film is worth viewing. Learn more about “Waste Land” and watch this documentary on their website.