This past weekend we watched the documentary “Waste Land.” Set in Jardim Gramacho, the landfill (one of the largest in the world) which collects most of the trash from Rio de Janeiro and the surrounding communities, it brings us in close to tell the stories of the men and women who work there collecting recyclables. It is a fascinating glimpse into their lives, their stories, their choices, their hopes, and their dreams.
The film chronicles the journey of Vik Muniz, a Brazilian artist who begins the film hoping to use art as a way to give back to “the poor.” He plans to create portraits of the workers made from the very trash that surrounds them on a daily basis. As they collaborate to create these works of stunning beauty from waste, Muniz ends up getting a little bit more than he bargained for as he begins to connect in real ways with the people who live and work in Jardim Gramacho – and as they enter into relationship with each other and come to know and love each other, they are both changed.
There is something profoundly grace-filled, as U2 would say, about making beauty out of ugly things.
Watch Vik Muniz, Valter, Tiao, Zumbi, Irma, and many others find goodness in ugly things. Watch them make beauty out of trash. Watch them find joy, hope, and dreams in unexpected places. And be inspired to go do the same…