Thoughts on our first documentary screening, “Waste Land”
Tonight we showed the documentary “Waste Land” at Tellus360. Gallery360 was packed, it was awesome…just under 50 people. The documentary was both moving and disappointing at the same time. What was moving? The art Vik Muniz/the chosen pickers created together and watching the pickers find meaning in their lives through art. Also, Tiao Santos’s facial expression after being exposed to Damien Hirst’s work for the first time was poetic in its own way, ha.
What was disappointing? I wanted more dialog, more analysis of the tough questions and less voyeuristic screen shots of the lives of the pickers and their terrible living conditions. I could tell their living conditions were bad from the very beginning when I saw them rummaging through heaps of garbage among birds and trucks and the hot sun, so the repetition wasn’t necessary. As I listened to Vik and his partners contemplating the possibility that their arrival could potentially cause more harm than good toward the end of the film (I felt this should have been addressed head on and in detail at the beginning of the film, not an afterthought), I found myself thinking of Tellus360’s partnership with Saprinu and feeling proud to be apart of it and proud to know the people who are involved.
Brooke Laura started Saprinu to change Nepal for the better, by devoting herself to giving the people of Nepal (or trying to give them) what they truly need to prosper, by immersing herself in the country and their culture and really learning for herself what is missing. She believes in giving them tools they can use and pass onto others instead of just throwing money their way. Tellus360 has partnered to help Brooke with her mission, and like Brooke, we are also dedicated to being culturally sensitive and aware of what will enable them to stand on their own feet as a country and prosper in the future. There is no guarantee any of us will change the country of Nepal, but there is no doubt our hearts are in the right place and no doubt they will change us. Somehow it seems that more often than not the people who go into something wanting to change other peoples lives for the better are the ones who’s lives are most impacted. Even Vik admitted that at the end of the Waste Land.
Something else I found both ironic and scary is the possibility of the picker culture/community being harsh foreshadowing for the future of our world. We are currently polluting and destroying the earth without a second thought. Perhaps the government treating the pickers as if they don’t exist is a metaphor for americans ignoring the fact that they are slowly destroying the earth. The earth is screaming at us, giving us crazy weather, melting ice caps…but collectively we just won’t listen. Here we are watching a documentary about artwork for and by the pickers when the facts are we will all be pickers in 50 years if we don’t change our lifestyles.
So I might be all over the place here, but know that I do think the art that resulted from this project is beautiful and I am super excited to see what is created at The Vik Muniz Experience next weekend. =)
If you missed the screening tonight you can see Waste Land on instant Netflix or borrow our copy from the store, thanks for reading!