Filmed over 3 years he finds an eclectic group of 'catadores' or garbage pickers of the recycled materials in the dump. We get to know their back-story and the way this extraordinary act of art consequently changes their lives forever.
Muniz's initial objective was to paint the catadores with the garbage, but something much more eventuates through his collaboration with these amazing people who engage in creating the actual pieces before they are photographed. It's more than a series of paintings as they begin to reinvent themselves.
He recreates photographic images out of the garbage, that were exhibited in London, sold as individual art works and photographic pieces and generated prize money from various art and film awards... and the funds went back to the catadores.
I was so moved watching this journey, to see these amazing people present with such dignity and the journey that Vik himself goes through. The power of the process is evidence of the transformative power of art.
“We are not pickers of garbage; we are pickers of recyclable materials,” Tião, an impoverished Brazilian catadore, or trash picker, declares to a talk-show host.
Film website at
There's also a great short piece on TED about Vik Muniz