As Brazilian born artist Vik Muniz says in the above trailer, he wants to change a group of people's lives with the materials they already work with. The amazing part of Lucy Walker's film Waste Land is that he chooses people who live and scavenge the world's largest landfill - the garbage dump Jardim Gramacho outside Rio de Janeiro.
Muniz had already become famous for similar projects. He created portraits of the children of sugar cane plantation workers using sugar from the fields where they worked. He made images out of shaded sugar, photographed them and then presented the photos. Here he does something similar, taking portraits of some of the pickers at Gramacho and having the subjects fill in color in a massive collage recreating the photograph (see photos after the jump). He then sold prints of the photos and gave the money to the pickers and community organizations they created to support workers at Gramacho. The film follows the three year project from start to finish, and you meet many of the pickers. Muniz's art and instincts are amazing, but the film is about whether the pickers can indeed transform their own lives by working with him.
Photos of the pickers and their portraits after the jump. The film screens at Zeitgeist at 9 p.m. from Friday, Jan. 14 through Sunday Jan. 23 and there are weekend matinees as well. (Local art fans may remember Muniz's portraits in chocolate exhibited at the CAC in 2001.)
Muniz and the pickers used the photo of Tiao Santos above to create the collage below.