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Putting It In Perspective

Artists who put waste in perspective in a tactile way can really open our eyes.

Trash is an unusual inspiration for art, but the following artists have used it as a medium to express a poignant message.

Gregg Segal is a photographer and artist that literally captures our waste output, and it isn’t at all pretty.

Putting It In Perspective

Taking snapshots of people lying picnic style in their refuse in a truth driven series called 7 Days of Garbage, Segal forces us to look at the reality of our lifestyles.

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From the artist:

“7 Days of Garbage is a series of portraits of friends, neighbors, and other acquaintances with the garbage they accumulate in the course of a week. Subjects are photographed surrounded by their trash in a setting that is part nest, part archeological record. We’ve made our bed and in it we lie.”

Hearing about the abundant waste problem in the U.S. is nothing new, but seeing it is certainly eye-opening.

Putting It In Perspective

Maybe the fear of being photographed with a week’s worth of trash would make us all waste less. Brave subjects, indeed.

Above images are © Gregg Segal.

Also, an artist that has produced an assembly of portraits that developed into a societal awareness of wastefulness is Vik Muniz.

One of his collections titled Pictures of Garbage began in 2008 and displays landfill and recycling laborers alongside an immense amount of discarded objects and trash. For the series, Muniz photographed the catadores, workers who sift through the trash in the 321 acres of Jardim Gramacho, one of the biggest landfills in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Images of the workers in the depths of the garbage they sift through are turned into moving portraits.

Putting It In Perspective

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The catadores help to reclaim and recycle the trash in the landfills, and some turn discarded finds into reusable pieces or artwork.

The manual labor is long, dangerous and workers are not protected by any regulations or government aid.

Putting It In Perspective

A film called Waste Land showcases Muniz’s attempt to bring awareness to and empower the workers in this area. The project, which also helped to raise money for laborers, displays their refuse filled landscape as works of art, and their recycling efforts which help the environment as significant acts.

Putting It In Perspective

To prepare for the film, Muniz reportedly followed and worked with the catadores in the landfills for a couple of years.

To read an interview about the artist and the mission, check out the feature in The New York Times.

A quote from the artist in the Times article:

 “The really magical things are the ones that happen right in front of you…A lot of the time you keep looking for beauty, but it is already there. And if you look with a bit more intention, you see it.”

Above images are © Vik Muniz.

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