Waste Land is a documentary that I think I watched in 8th or 9th grade about a man who wanted to create art using garbage. The film was made to document Vik Muniz’s journey as an artist in collaboration with garbage pickers from the Jardim Gramacho landfill in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It covers two years of working on the art and the final assembly of the objects into large-scale mosaic portraits on a warehouse floor.
The final artworks were sold at art auctions in London, England and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art. Muniz wanted to help the garbage pickers obtain better living and working conditions through the creation of these artworks and this film.
As an artist, my mind is always pulling me toward finding creative ways to make art and not spend a lot of money. I think Vik Muniz has found the solution:
These two pieces of artwork are the final products. If you look closely you can see all of the garbage.
I think I appreciate these works of art so much because they are made of garbage and they’re made of materials that everyone just decided to throw out. Looking down on the last one, there are a lot of plastic bottles. Those are recyclable! I can’t claim to know a lot about recycling, but I do try my best when it is convenient to recycle plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and paper. If everyone recycled it could make a big difference in the impact we’re leaving on this world.
In my opinion, saving the world isn’t going to come from me abandoning the idea of the Taker’s world. If I just left this society and took off in the jungle to live a Leaver’s life, that wouldn’t do any good to the world or the helpless Taker’s left here who don’t even recognize the endless loop they’ve become a part of. I have to be something. I have to do something – something significant.
Although the idea of trying to be someone in this vast world of everything everyone was and ever will become does sound daunting, I can’t help but feel optimistic at the thought of saving the world. Just what that means, however, I’m not entirely sure, but everyone seems to be pointing toward obtaining sustainable renewable energy as our primary source of energy and recycling and environmental conservation.
I’ve never been one to worry a whole lot about those subjects, but now that I’m entering college, it seems like these national crises are becoming more and more real – if that’s even possible. They’re blowing up right in front of my face and on one hand, society is forcing me to look at the destruction, but on the other, Mother Culture is telling me that everything is going to be okay and if I look the other way it will all just disappear, but I know that’s a lie. I want so bad to believe what Mother Culture says is true, but there is no way to cover up such a lie. I have to abandon my mindset as a Taker but still remain in this chapter of human history in order to get through to people.
Abandoning my Taker mindset means also learning to ignore Mother Culture and when you grow up in a world like this one, that’s no easy task. I have to learn to adapt and adopt the Leaver mindset and way of life while still living among the Takers. I’m not sure at what point I can begin to be defined as a Leaver, but living my life as a Taker is no longer acceptable. Not after Ishmael.