Vik Muniz is a New York based visual artist who takes ordinary materials and turns them into extraordinary pieces of art. His work has been exhibited in museums around the world and he even has a book called Reflex: A Vik Muniz Primer. Muniz is now the subject of a new documentary called Waste Land which follows him as he travels to the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho which is located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Muniz is originally from Brazil so this journey, for him, was as much personal as it was professional.
In the movie, Muniz beautifully and magically transforms discarded waste right in front of our very eyes. At the dump, he meets "catadores" or self-designated pickers of recyclable materials and makes them a part of his story. As stated in the movie's synopsis, "His collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives. Director Lucy Walker has great access to the entire process and, in the end, offers stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit."
Waste Land just opened in New York yesterday, October 29th. See this page for release dates near you.
To get to know Muniz a bit more, watch this older TED talk. It's pretty amazing what he can do with thread, sugar, and chocolate.