“Picker is like garbage, nobody knows about him”

by Kasia

I saw WasteLand.  Amongst other questions, Vik Muniz asks “Can Art change people?” as well as,  ” What happens when you temporarily remove people from their oppressive circumstances? What happens to them afterwards?”  Those questions are definitely worth pondering upon. Jardim Gramacho in Rio is the largest landfill in terms of the volume of trash received daily.  The “Garden” is surrounded by sex traffickers and the pickers are excluded from the society.   Muniz calls it “ End of the line. Where everything that is not good goes, including people”.  Maybe he’s been eavesdropping on our class discussion?  We keep making that point throughout the different Bases.

My favorite line of the film is “ Millionaire’s garbage is mixed with poor person’s garbabe”.  Given the terrible Classism in Brazil, it’s quite ironic how at the end of the day, the rich and the poor waste sits together.

One of the owners of the landfill states that if you keep adding on the garbage without certain guidelines, the jello-like ground might collapse. It reminded me of Lynch’s “Waste Cacotopia”. With that in mind, the pickers are essential to the Waste system. They make room for more waste to be added. There’s a scene where Muniz takes a helicopter tour of the Landfill. His words again, ring very close to our last class. He says looking down “From above, you don’t have any of the human factor”.

 I can go on, but don’t wanna give the whole film away.



  cindypound wrote @

i like thinking about the idea that the garbage of the rich and the garbage of the poor end up in the same place. of course this assumes that both rich and poor are being served by the same waste collection infrastructure…or maybe not. are there more roads to this landfill than the official, institutional ones?

  waking2dream wrote @

Interestingly enough there is only one main road that leads to the Jardim Gramacho. Not only it mixes the trash of the rich and the poor but it piles up garbage of 6 different countries, daily.

  jennykane324 wrote @

I posted a link above to a Rio paper that says one of the problems with the site is all the illegal dumping that has been going on for years because of ungaurded routes into the landfill. It seems most of the material is household and I wonder what toxic stuff is in the rest? From what I read it appears the landfill is at maximum load.

  Victoria wrote @

I also thought about this as well from the readings of last class, what health problems do these garbage pickers face by being surrounded by trash in the heat every day? Especially the children, one of the young sorters says she even eats things she finds in the trash.

  Victoria wrote @

I thought about this as well from the readings of last class, what health problems do these garbage pickers face by being surrounded by trash in the heat every day? Especially the children, one of the young sorters says she even eats things she finds in the trash.

  Victoria wrote @

I also was interested in the way the concept of classicism is applied to the way the garbage pickers see the garbage. It made me think about one of our first few classes where we thought about the idea of what is considered garbage? The sorting is what gives it meaning. It depends on class as every individual deems which item they consider garbage and what they deem worthy to keep. In the film, the garbage pickers go through the trash and are able to tell which trash is middle-class trash and which is poor people trash, books in perfect condition, barely worn shoes, and other items someone of a lower class status would not consider trash. And all of it is mixed together ending up in the same pile as Cindy mentions above. In the film, one of the garbage pickers talks about what we did in our first classes, how no one ever thinks about where the trash goes when they throw it out. The act of throwing something out is an act of cleansing and purging, we don’t want to be near it, makes us uncomfortable. But they are highly aware, faced with it everyday. And we as viewers are faced with getting to know the faces of the people who go through the trash and deal with it once it leaves our hands.

  jennykane324 wrote @

On the local side, the DSNY san men also note how trash differs between neighborhoods and how so much perfectly good stuff is discarded in some areas.

  cindypound wrote @

calvino says something in invisible cities to the effect “the more marvelous the civilization the more marvelous the trash”…the idea that “high end” trash is the byproduct/privilege of prosperous, advanced societies….the trash archeology possibilities in this landfill must be incredible…the whole of contemporary brazilian culture lurking within…

  99hooker wrote @

I need to go see this. What’s interesting is the emphasis on transformation which is at the heart of the industrial revolution. The amazing ability to transform the material world created among other things a desire to be changed and to control change – some might say this was a degradation of Being into Having (followed by the palrty Appearing to Have). But I wonder if the movie considers how this aesthetic urge is not so different from the Industrial one.


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