Waste Land

Captured in Lucy Walker’s documentary Waste Land, artist Vik Muniz is a master at taking ordinary discarded objects and turning them into gorgeous and heartbreaking works of art. The film revolves around Muniz’s work with a clan of garbage-pickers who comb a landfill in Rio de Janeiro (one of the largest in the world) for things that still have some life in them. He creates complex and engaging large-scale works of art drawn from photographs of the Brazilians draped in their decaying discoveries. On paper, it doesn’t sound like it could work, but as the documentary shows, the art and the people come together in unexpected and moving ways.

“It’s very uplifting,” says Marian Luntz, curator of film and video at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which is screening the film several times beginning January 22. “It’s about the art and the human interaction” between artist and subject.

The film is also a tie-in with an MFAH exhibition “Cosmopolitan Routes: Houston Collects Latin American Art,” which runs through February and features the work of Muniz along with dozens of other artists. It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg situation with the film and exhibition. Luntz and others had been tracking the documentary since it played the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010, and when an opportunity arose to bring the film to the MFAH, she jumped at the chance. “It’s worth all its acclaim,” she says, noting that it’s on the short list for the Academy Award for best documentary feature. 1 p.m. January 22, 29 and 30; 8 p.m. January 27; and 5 p.m. February 6. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit www.mfah.org/films. $6 to $7.
Sat., Jan. 22, 1 p.m.; Thu., Jan. 27, 8 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 29, 1 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 30, 1 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 6, 5 p.m., 2011

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Daniel Carlson
Contact: Daniel Carlson