(Image Credit: Vik Muniz Studio)
Wasteland, directed by Lucy Walker, is a documentary about artist Vik Muniz and how he creates art using garbage from a landfill just outside Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. In 2010, Muniz traveled to Jardim Gramacho which at the time was the one of the largest landfills in the world. Muniz met with catadores (garbage collectors) to discuss life working at Jardim Gramacho and to learn more about the catadores general hopes for the future. Muniz worked with seven catadores and together they developed art pieces that Muniz auctioned off – 100% of the proceeds from the pieces in the auction went back to the catadores. Muniz made sure to highlight different people’s experiences and why they were working in the landfill. Some of the Catadores loved working in the landfill, and the relationship they developed with other catadores; but others did not enjoy the harsh working conditions and wanted a way out. One of the catadores stuck with me even after watching the film, and that catadore was Irma.
Irma was the chef working at Jardim Gramacho, and she provided food for all of the working catadores. Irma is a trained chef but chose to provide meals to the catadores at the landfill, she developed a familial relationship with the people working at the landfill. Irma uses fresh ingredients that come from the landfill and has learned to use what is around her to make meals. The picture included above of Irma, is a picture Muniz took of her while she was gathering supplies for the meals she made.
Creating art using the materials around you is not a new phenomenon, but Muniz changed the way using the materials around you to create art. Muniz became one-of-a-kind when he decided to create art with the help of the catadores. Muniz changed their lives and gave them a better way of life if they wanted it. This film opened my eyes to the new ways art can be used to not only inspire people, but also help people.