Waste Land

Garbage as art? Why not? In Rio de Janeiro’s municipal garbage dump, ironically named “The Garden,” poor trash pickers called catadores work and live in and among the veritable mountain of Rio’s daily tons of refuse. The close-knit community is the star of Lucy Walker’s documentary Waste Land, which just happens to be on the short list for Best Documentary nomination in the Oscars. Zumbi lends out his library of discarded books, Irma cooks for the community from found food, Tião runs a co-op and daycare center. They’re on the lowest rung of Brazil’s social ladder, but their interaction with found-object artist Vik Muniz, who literally turns their junk and them into art, fills their lives with hope. The fact that he shares profits with them ain’t so bad either.

Prostitution or drugs is the usual life for the poverty-stricken of Brazil, so garbage picking is an honorable step up, but now a few have managed to escape even this. In this uplifting tale, the spirit of the people of The Garden is indomitable. 8 p.m. Brazilian Arts Foundation, 1133 E. 11th Street. For information, call 713‑862-3300 or visit www.brazilianarts.org. Free.
Sat., Jan. 21, 2012

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