Monday, February 14, 2011

Waste Land

No, not T.S. Eliot’s poem.


The film the Huffington Post called the slumdog millionaire of documentaries.

It's Brazil’s bid for an Oscar in this year’s competition.

I have written before in this space about Vik Muniz.

If you have a high-speed connection, and you missed that post, I suggest you click on the above link and go there for some background information about this outstanding artist.

Waste Land, the film, follows Vik from New York City, where he now lives, to the splendor of Rio de Janeiro in his native Brazil.

And on into the heart of Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest garbage dump.

Jardim Gramacho receives, every day, in excess of 7,000 tons of trash – more than any other landfill area in the world.

The site is constantly being picked over by a small army of catadores, scavengers, who eke out a precarious existence from what they can salvage from the refuse.

The squatter community bordering the landfill has grown to 13,000 people – all dependent upon an economy that revolves around the trade of recyclable materials.

Vik’s idea was to “paint” portraits of the scavengers composed of elements drawn from the detritus.

He based a number of them on classic works.

Here, for example, is Muniz’s photo reference for the image you see in the poster above. It's a portrait of the catador Sebastião Carlos dos Santos...

...based upon this original: 

The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David.

Last month, Waste Land won the award for the Best Documentary at the Sundance film festival.

Lucy Walker, the director, accepted the award for the cast and crew.

Lucy and Vik have high hopes for the film in Hollywood at the end of this month. 

Please click the button to hear his voice in this three-minute trailer:

 Leighton - Monday

1 comment:

  1. I went back and looked at the first post on Vik Muniz. The pictures made from string are beyond amazing. How does anyone do that? It isn't just artistic talent, it's the detail. How does someone couple imagination with a brain/hand coordination that can make something so detailed?

    The amazing thing in WASTELAND is the juxtaposition of the living man with the picture he became. It is so close to the Jacques-Louis David picture of Marat. I don't think there is a world history text book that doesn't have the "Death of Marat" in its pages. That might be because even the history-phobic like to hear about Charlotte Corday killing of Marat while he was soaking. The story is that he had a skin disorder that developed while he hid in the sewers of Paris during the revolution. Sewers-rats-female assassin gets attention.

    An visual artist is someone who can see possibilities in what passes for landfill by the rest of us.