The "Pictures of Garbage" series by Vik Munez is a project featuring the world’s largest garbage dump (called Jardim Gramacho), and the people who live in it. The project was actually turned into an award winning documentary by director Lucy Walker called “Waste land” (2010). You can watch the trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNlwh8vT2NU (I haven’t actually seen the documentary but now I am now that I discovered Vik Munez I’m excited to watch it!). Munez created the pieces by photographing the people of Rio de Janerio who live in the land fill, sketching out the image he wanted to portray on the floor of a large room, and then, with the help of locals, laid out tons of garbage to reveal the images below. The photographs of these rooms of garbage are beautiful and emotional. They also work to “unconceal” the world on multiple levels.
The photos are primarily meant to reveal the people who live and work in the garbage dump: to help tell their story. The emotions of the people portrayed by Munez reveal love, despair, hope, fear, struggle, and others. The people were actually quite involved in helping Munez create his work and, in they seemed quite excited, though initially skeptical, about the project. For these people, the process of seeing Munez create the pieces, seeing their world transformed into beauty, must have been an awesome process. Munez actually donated all of the profits from the photos back to the people who live in the dump.
The photographs also remind us how we are so far removed from the waste that we produce. We usually have no clue where it goes, what happens to it as time passes, and what impact it has on the environment and the people who have to live with it. The reflections of the people affected by the garbage dump revealed in the photos shows us that, though we feel disconnected from garbage, this is not a sustainable system. As our garbage grows more and more, the people affected by it will also grow. The photos beg viewers to start thinking about what our materialistic lives are doing to the world.
Munez unconceals the potential that the most harmful and sad things in the world have to bring good to the world. Endless and mundane disgustingness can be given form and individuality. The ugly and useless can be made beautiful and useful. The dead and decaying can be made to be emotional and full of life. The largest garbage dump in the world, usually hidden from all but the poorest of people, can be revealed to the world in an inspiring way.