Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"99 is Not 100"

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Although I love this photo, I have to disagree with Death Cab's "The New Year," in which the lyrics go on to say, "So this is the new year, and I don't feel any different," because I do. The new year has given me a sense of renewal, which I so greatly needed after some of the ups and downs of last year. One of my new years resolutions is to expect less and give more, because as my Dad put it the other day, "in relationships, you should always give 60%, because you are never actually giving as much as you think you are." This attitude has already allowed me to live more selflessly, which has thus far (okay, I know it's only been like three days) lead to a greater sense of happiness and appreciation for everything I have.

Speaking of appreciation, I just got home from watching Lucy Walker's award winning documentary Wasteland with a few friends tonight. Wasteland, a film about the art that stems from the world's largest landfill, is one of the most powerful documentaries I have seen since the Invisible Children documentary in 8th grade. Anonymous calls it "An uplifting feature documentary highlighting the transformative power of art and the beauty of the human spirit." Watch the trailer for yourself, and then I seriously recommend renting the movie on iTunes. I promise you that you will walk away with a whole different outlook on life, or at least a stronger desire to recycle.

The film is about Brazil's best-selling modern artist, Vik Muniz, who decides to make art out of the world's largest landfill, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. During his two year stay in Rio, Muniz takes pictures of the "pickers," some of Rio's shunned individuals who spend their days picking recylable items out of the landfill in return for pay, and then Muniz  creates the images of the pickers using solely the garbage from the landfill. The film shows the real relationships that Muniz makes with these individuals, and through his project, ultimately gives them a sense of hope that there is life beyond the landfill and an experience that they will never forget.

1) The Jardim Gramacho Landfill
2-3) The artwork, made solely out of the garbage from the pickers

Vik Muniz, in my opinion, effectively communicates with the audience through his art that beauty can by found in anything, even garbage. As Muniz put it, these pickers were all great people who had great senses of pride in what they did, they were just unlucky. As Muniz himself grew up poor, his project in Rio was designed so that he could help "give back," and that he did. All of the earnings from the sold photographs were given to the pickers and allowed them to create better lives for themselves.

I can definitely say that I look at garbage in a whole new way, and also have a renewed sense of why recycling is so important. In the words of Valter, one of the many beautifully raw characters in the film, "One single can is of great importance, because 99 is not 100 and that single one will make a difference.”

So if you are still sitting there looking for a New Year's resolution, or maybe you haven't even thought about what you're going to do yet, here's an easy one for you: recycle. It's that easy.

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