Silver Lake Operations # 1, Lake Lefroy, Western Australia, 2007. Photograph, 39 x 49 in. Photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York
The large scale colour photographs by Burtynsky document the many facets of nature like they are transformed by human industry. Industrial processes such as shipbuilding (in China) and shipbreaking (in Bangladesh) are presented as highly expressive visions where beauty is found in the most unlikely of places.
The images by Burtynsky (born 1955 in St. Catharines, Ontario) are metaphors of the dilemma of our modern existence. We are drawn by the desire for prosperity and a good comfortable life, yet we all know that the world suffers to meet those demands. Our dependence on nature to provide us with the materials for our consumption, in contrast to our concern for the health of our planet, sets us into the uneasy contradiction that feeds the dialogue in the images by Burtynsky between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. This contradiction is absolutely intended, as the artist insists that he is not celebrating nor condemning anything; neither industrialization nor the impact of civilization on the environment. Edward Burtynsky shows exceptional talent with his constant attention to composition and light, always presenting images with a painters eye for colour and a sculptors feel of form.
His photographs are included in the collections of 15 major museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Biblioteque National in Paris. Edward Burtynsky is established as one of Canadas most respected contemporary photographers. In June 2006 he was appointed to the Order of Canada, Canadas highest civilian honour, recognizing lifetime achievement.
Nickel Tailings No. 30, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, 1996. Digital chromogenic color print, 38 1/2 x 60 in. © Courtesy of the artist, Edward Burtynsky
Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky is fascinated by the subject of the topographical landscape as it has been irrevocably altered by industries that feed the world’s appetite for material goods. Burtynsky finds both beauty and repulsiveness in his depictions of mining, manufacturing, consumption, waste disposal and recycling. Rather than simply decry the human scarring of the land, he acknowledges the conflict between the human need for economic growth and the value of protecting our fragile ecosystem. The 15 photographs in this exhibition show the beauty and ugliness of landscapes that have been altered by human industry.
Manufacturing #17, Deda Chicken Processing Plant, Dehui City, Jilin Province, 2005. Digital chromogenic color print, 40 x 60 in. © Courtesy of the artist, Edward Burtynsky
Photos et vignette © Edward Burtynsky