Sunday, December 05, 2010

"Waste Land": the work of Vik Muniz: from Brazil landfill to London art museums and auctions

The little film “Waste Land” (dir. Lucy Walker, Karen Hurley, Joao Jardim, from Arthouse Films and Almega) has nothing to do with TS Elliot. No, it takes us from the world’s largest sanitary landfill (“Jardim Gramacho”) outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to art shows and auctions in London, through the biographical journey of Vik Muniz, from Brooklyn, who creates art out of the recyclable materials.

There is a lot here about how poor people survive, and there’s an existential confrontation toward the end of the film on the moral consequences of one person’s lifting himself up (no Josh Groban song) and making art out of adversity, both his own and other people’s.

Muniz also shows his old neighborhood of Sao Paolo, which has become safer and middle class, but is still struggling economically.

The website for the film is here.

I had a bit of a misadventure getting into the film. Landmark printed the wrong ticket and wrong auditorium, and I was actually fooled for a moment as “Inside Job” (Oct. 24) started. Yes, Sony Pictures Classics could have released this film, too, and yes, the 2008 financial crisis could have added to poverty in Brazil (and everywhere).

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