Be at Sarratt Cinema tonight at 7:30 for the screening of the award-winning documentary Wasteland. Artist Vik Muniz’s journey from his home in Brooklyn to his native Brazil highlights the transformative power of art and the beauty of the human spirit.
At the world’s largest garbage dump located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Muniz photographs the “catadores”—pickers of recyclable materials. His collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they re-imagine their lives.
Presented by the Center for Latin American Studies as part of the ILens Film Series at Vamderbilt, the film (English and Portuguese with English subtitles) was directed by Lucy Walker, João Jardim, and Karen Harley in 2010.
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is featuring Vik Muniz: Garbage Matters now through Sunday, September 15, in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery. Muniz is celebrated for his photographs of everyday materials, which have been arranged to reveal provocative and delightfully unexpected images when viewed from a distance. These transformative still lifes often relate to social concerns, as seen in the selections from the series Pictures of Junk and Pictures of Garbage on view in this exhibition. Merging high and low cultures, Muniz used castoff materials to recreate such masterpieces as Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Jacques Louis David’s Death of Marat.
By exploring the relationship between the supposedly timeless beauty of Western art and the grim realities of poverty and waste, Muniz reminds us that great cultural attainments throughout history have often been achieved in environments—–and often as a consequence—–of repression and economic disparity. This does not alter the greater truth of Muniz’s vision: beauty, humanistic values, and spiritual aspiration can be found in the most abject of worlds.
If you can’t attend tonight’s screening of Wasteland at Sarratt Cinema, you have another chance to see it on Friday, September 6, at 7:00 p.m. in the Frist Center Auditorium.