Putting It Back Together
by Lisa Coleman
Filmed over nearly three years, PBS’s Waste Land follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of catadores – or garbage pickers. The catadores are the ultimate marginalized population; unemployed in any traditional sense of the word, they resort to picking valuable recyclable materials from the garbage thrown away by those in Brazil more fortunate than themselves.
Vik Muniz, a Brazilian artist known for using unconventional materials to create portraits of marginalized people, set out to “paint” the catadores with the garbage they spent their days sorting through. But upon meeting the amazing characters who work at the landfill, he decides to turn the project into a collaboration with the catadores themselves. He photographs the pickers individually at the landfill itself, and then projects the images he’s captured onto the floor of a massive warehouse nearby. Then he works with the catadores to gather recyclable items from the dump and use these discarded things to recreate the images on the floor. In the end, vibrant, complex, and essentially human portraits emerge, revealing both dignity and despair as the catadores begin to re-imagine their lives.
Muniz doesn’t just talk about the transformative power of art but puts it into action in Brazil. He decides that all proceeds from the photographs he creates of the finished pieces go back to the catadores, which they use to improve their living conditions, go to school, invest in the co-op, keep their trucks in working order, and even build a library.
Vik Muniz’s work, Garbage Matters, was featured in Nashville at the Frist Museum, in 2013.
Broken and dislocated pieces are reimagined to fit together in vibrant harmonies. If a mere human artist can take that which is broken and discarded to make something new and beautiful, how much more so can the Creator Artist of everything do with an entire earth that waits in eager expectation for the resurrection of God’s children?
In Colossians 1, God highlights His plan of Christ’s redemptive work for the church, but then he goes beyond it, emphasizing all things, everything, things on earth and things in Heaven. We will examine the wait for resurrection and discuss how far-reaching it might be this Sunday. Please join us!
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May God bless you and your study, as you seek to know Him better through the study of His Word.
Yours in Christ,