A few weeks back, I came across the exquisite documentary film named 'Waste Land', which affected me so profoundly, that it inspired the two pages of posts you'll find here.
The concept of the film follows world renowned modern artist Vik Muniz, as he returns to his humble beginnings in Sao Paulo, Brazil, armed with the courageous idea to channel his art into something which could positively affect the community, not just monetarily, rather involving them directly, thereby facilitating a sense of hope.
It should be noted that Vik is highly sought after in the art world for re-creating famous paintings using materials and mediums which, although common in everyday life, are seldom deemed worthy of becoming a piece of art. It is precisely this unique perspective which elevates his work to resonate beyond the superficial to something more altruistic by somehow shifting our vantage point to embrace the ordinary as extraordinary.
Once he sets his idea in motion, Vik decides that 'Jardim Gramacho' (one of the world's largest garbage dumps, which in fact receives approximately seventy percent of Rio de Janeiro's waste; that's roughly eleven million people's garbage dumped into one specific area), is just the place to reclaim materials to use in this set of philanthropic artworks.
What Vik finds within the squalor of Jardim Gramacho is unbearable ruin, however, he conversely encounters a legion of garbage pickers who, despite their indescribable living conditions, possess an unbelievable strength of character. These people turn one man's trash into another's treasure by means of rummaging through the garbage, and literally sorting by hand, any item which can be salvaged for recycling, thus helping the environment while providing them with a very meager, yet tangible income.
Vik bonds with several of the workers, whom he decides to involve in the entire process, from becoming the object of art itself, to applying the garbage atop their larger than life portraits which Vik has created, with the end result being a photographic collage of themselves. In our society it would be thought of as highly disrespectful to combine a portrait with garbage, however the act of embracing who they are at their core, by means of something they only do, are two clear distinctions which appear to be liberating for everyone involved.
This film is a prime example of our interconnectedness and raises various questions which beget numerous, far reaching implications. It all begins the moment we widen our scope of compassion and perspective, for which this film is a striking catalyst.
It is through the evolution of modern society that the term 'Progress' has become the main goal to achieve, oftentimes defining it in terms of goods, technology, or some tangible thing to acquire, but we seldom apply the word 'Progress' to ourselves, our nature, our personal evolution.
Through awareness and education we as individuals can unify and sanctify our truth and compassion, and therefore bring about a certain strength which provides fuel for the soul, not the global machine. That the worth of each person has an overwhelming integrity to assert an indelible impact upon, and give meaning to any object/situation, as opposed to having the object or situation define us.
The people of this documentary fill me with unbelievable optimism and call my senses back to what lies within as opposed to without. Circumstances often arise which can be out of our control, but every event carries within it the seeds of change to which a new hope and opportunity can be born. And at the end of the day, our life, our character, and our spirit are only as dynamic and fulfilled as we dream ourselves to be...
*For more information on the 'Waste Land' documentary/project, as well as contact information to donate, please find the link at the bottom of the page*