Jakarta, Indonesia 2017-2018
According to the principles of the circular economy, landfills are the “new” mining sites, since they contain huge quantity of materials that can be used again as raw materials. Thus, trash pickers become the “new” miners.
Among the many changes we are living in our time, we see the growing of “trashscapes”: mountains you can climb, plateau where you can set a tent, canyons you can walk, with villages living in and around them. So far, trash pickers have been presented as poor people coming to a landfill to collect litter. This photo series is part of the story on Mak Muji, the landfill midwife of Bantar Gebang, probably one of the largest dumpsites in the world. Her life shows a change: people live in and around the landfill, in what look as stable settlements, not temporary slums, thus showing us a tremendous example of resilience to this man-made environment.
The photo of Mak Muji on top of Bantar Gebang waste heap has been awarded the overall prize Earth Photo 2019 by the Royal Geographical Society in London, June 2019.