Top-selling contemporary artist, Vik Muniz, traveled from Brooklyn, New York, back to his native country, Brazil, in order to create these intriguing works of art that are made from garbage and waste. In Jardim Gramacha, the largest open landfill site in the world on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, are hundreds of civilians who work amongst the piles of garbage. Muniz decided to photograph some of the civilians in order to recreate their photographs using only the waste and garbage found in the landfill. Muniz then sold the photographs at auctions and donated US$300,000 to the subjects who modelled for him and helped with the work. Not only does Muniz’s art evoke worrisome thoughts about the amount of waste that accumulates as a result of a consumer-based culture, but his art has changed the lives of his subjects dramatically.
Muniz’s efforts were documented in an award-winning film called Waste Land (in collaboration with British director, Lucy Walker) in which viewers can gain a better understanding of the artistic process, and an even better understanding of the emotional effects Muniz’s work has had on the models, his peers and complete strangers. The film was released on 2010 and premiered in Berlin Film Festival 2010 (Berlinale).