In talking about new-genre public art and the potential critique of such work I was reminded of a really interesting documentary I saw recently on the work of Vik Muniz. Waste Land follows the artist as he returns to his native Brazil from Brooklyn to work on a project with the catadores who pick and sell recyclable materials from the world’s largest garbage dump. My response to the documentary was critical of Muniz who employs the catadores to pick garbage and setup his trademark assemblages to be photographed and sold at auction. Some of the imagery from the film as the artist watches from scaffolding as the catadores assemble images from garbage in the Muniz’s warehouse reminded me of the potential for hierarchies in new-genre public art and the agency of the artist. I think the work is problematic in this way and the artists relationships with the different catadores and their unique understandings of the work and their relations to the artist are very interesting. Worth watching.
New-Genre Public Art & Vik Muniz Waste Land