Waste land

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BR Brazil
Web http://www.wastelandmovie.com/


About the project Edit

When ecology becomes art in the heart of the largest garbage dump in the world


In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Currently living in New York, artist Vik Muniz returned to his native Brazil to realize a large-scale art project: to make something beautiful and human from portraits of catadores – garbage pickers – at the edge of society and the world’s largest garbage dump.

Catadores are men, women and children who change, grow and die in garbage and sorting through it allows them to survive, for lack of a better word. In South America, the phenomenon is growing, competition is on the rise, solidarity is not necessarily the case, and what’s in the garbage can is vital.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

For three years, WASTE LAND followed Brazilian artist Vik Muniz of Brooklyn where he lives to Jardim Garamcho in the suburb of Rio de Janerio and the biggest landfill in the world, for an unprecedented artistic project: to photograph the catadores – garbage pickers – in staged settings using objects and materials rescued from garbage cans.

The project is gradually transformed into a human adventure through contact with these extraordinary individuals. Vik captures completely desperation and dignity while they succeed at reinventing their lives while collaborating on this work of art.

Produced by Fernando Meirelles and music by Moby, this Lucy Walker film makes us think about the artist’s responsibility toward his/her environment and the utopian idea that a work of art can sometimes change a life.

WASTE LAND is a stunning example of the power of art beyond the frenzy of the odds of contemporary artists giving back in this way a new sense of the value of the work.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

The film shows us how a person, idea or wish can bring hope and joy to where there was only pain and discouragement. It deals with:

. the omnipresence of waste
. a society of consumption
. those abandoned by society
. recycling – necessary now more than ever, but also…
. art, from its conception to its value in every sense of the word, merchandise value and human value

In his way, Vik proves that art can transform people’s lives. As such, all artistic initiatives brought with the same social approach can be imagined.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

The project’s starting point was the willingness of artist Vik Muniz to return to his native country and use his art and his reputation to help a community of people rejected by Brazilian society and have them be discovered from a completely new and creative perspective.

What is the business model of this project? Edit

100% of the sales of Vik Muniz’s Pictures of Garbage and portraits of the film’s catadores will be returned to the Association of Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho (ACAMJG). About $250,000 was collected and used for:

. new housing for the catadores
. deficit bailout the Association of Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho (ACAMJG)
. ACAMJG infrastructure improvement
. new truck
. new learning centre
. foundation of a small training program
. library with 15 computers
. financing for restoration project for Irma the cook

With the help of NGO’s, the Brazilian Institute for the Innovation of Medical-Social Services, the director decided to give all festival awards to the ACAMJG. The total was close to $85,000. The work of Vik Muniz and the catadores started a movement to build a solid recycling system and hire Brazil’s catadores as consultants.

However, the ACAMJG still needs two additional trucks to pick up garbage ($50,000 each) and a hangar to sort collected trash. Tiao Santoa, President of the ACAMJG, questioned the need for funds to pay the catadores’ training which is essential to ensure their professional transition towards qualified employment in recycling plants when Jardim Gramacho closes down in 2012. Tiao’s dream today is to attend university and learn English. These works of art gave real value to these people who society had already put in the same category as waste.


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