Friday, February 25, 2011

Brazil's Oscar-Nominated Documentary - Waste Land

On Sunday, when the 83rd annual Academy Awards are given out in Hollywood, California, Brazilians will be watching the Feature Documentary Category with particularly close attention. One of the nominated films in that category, Waste Land by directors Lucy Walker, Karen Harley and João Jardim, is about one of Brazil's best-known artists, Vik Muniz, and his work with the garbage pickers of Jardim Gramacho, the world's largest landfill, located just outside Rio de Janeiro.

Muniz, who currently lives in New York, is known primarily for his works of art fashioned from scraps and garbage, made on a huge scale, and then photographed to complete the work. The film is about Muniz and his work, but primarily about the lives of some of the pickers who live and survive at and on the landfill. There are approximately 2500 of these catadores, as they're referred to in Portuguese, but the film focuses on just a few of then and their relationship with Muniz. One of these garbage-pickers, Tião Santos, posed as Marat in Muniz' best-known work, Marat/Sebastião, seen in the film poster at the top of this post. Waste Land is emotionally involving, and the it illuminates a way of life far removed from most of our imaginings. It also shows the dignity that the catadores find in their work amidst the refuse and garbage of Jardim Gramacho. I, for one, am rooting for it to win an Oscar, and highly recommend it to readers of this blog.
Tião Santos as Marat

Besides garbage, Muniz has worked with many other unusual material in creation of his work. Including food. Which is why this post that seems to have nothing to do with food is doing here at Flavors of Brazil. Here are some works that Muniz created using food as a medium. He is a highly inventive artist, with a wicked sense of humor and a keen eye for irony. His work here is a visual bon appetit. Delicious and thought provoking.
Medusa (medium: pasta)

Mao Tse-Tung (medium: chocolate)



Kark Marx (medium: caviar)



Mona Lisa (medium: peanut butter & jelly)
Che Guevara (medium: beans)


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