NEWS HUB

Edward Burtynsky Depicts Our Alien Domain

By Louis Bury
Hyperallergic

The power of Edward Burtynsky’s landscape photographs is undeniable. Their sweeping aerial perspectives are shot in a style that verges on abstraction without losing their figurative referent. The breathtaking, large-scale images depict landscapes altered and scarred by human industry and development. The stepped terraces and switchback roads of a dusty, Mars-red mining site resemble the desiccated ruins of an ancient civilization (“Tyrone Mine #3, Silver City, New Mexico, USA,” 2012). A taupe jigsaw of desert roads connecting brine wells evokes a circuit diagram (“Brine Wells #1, Salt Flats, Atacama Desert, Chile,” 2017). Burtynsky’s intricately patterned and textured landscapes possess a crop-formation exoticism; yet it turns out that we humans are the architects of this unnerving and seemingly alien terrain.

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Stirring Images of Our Impact on the Environment

By Amy Brady
Hyperallergic

TORONTO — Standing in a spacious gallery at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto, I held back tears as I watched piles of confiscated elephant tusks go up in flames. The moment had been captured by filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. The poignant short film is as part of the AGO’s Anthropocene, a deeply moving and thought-provoking exhibition about humanity’s impact on the Earth and its inhabitants. The exhibition includes large murals accompanied by short documentary films, three augmented reality installations, and dozens of photographs by Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky of landscapes forever altered by human activity.z

The art evokes many emotions: sorrow, anger, grief. Yet a quote attributed to all three artists printed in large lettering on a gallery wall insists that their work was never intended to place blame but, rather, to generate awareness: “Our ambition is for the work to be revelatory, not accusatory, as we examine human influence on the Earth both on a planetary scale and in geological time. The shifting of consciousness is the beginning of change.”

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Aerial Photographs Convey Humanity’s Devastating Effects on Nature

By Lev Feigin
Hyperallergic

“If we view ourselves from a great height, it is frightening to realize how little we know about our species, our purpose and our end,” wrote the novelist W.G. Sebald in Rings of Saturn. From the window of a plane above an urban sprawl, we witness among geometries of rooftops, factories, and highways “infinite networks of complexity that goes far beyond the power of any one individual to imagine.”

Photographing such complex, large-scale networks from the air has been the career-spanning pursuit of the Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky. For more than three decades, his work has focused on the impact of human activity on the environment from a God’s-eye view, prompting us to think about our species, our purpose, and our end.

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