'Anthropocene,' the Groundbreaking Exhibition With Thought-Provoking Imagery and AR Installations, Will Travel From Canada to Europe


Breathtaking photographs and films, immersive augmented reality experiences, cutting-edge technology: Anthropocene ends Friday in Ottawa

This groundbreaking exhibition explores human impact on the planet through large-scale photographs by Edward Burtynsky, film installations by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier and, new from the artists, augmented reality installations. A 236-page exhibition book is available.

The show will travel to Fondazione MAST, in Bologna, in the spring of 2019 for its European premiere.

Anthropocene, the multimedia exhibition on view at the National Gallery of Canada until February 24, 2019, is the result of an ambitious four-year collaboration between the renowned artist Edward Burtynsky and award-winning filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. Using the most cutting-edge technology of our time, combining film, photography, augmented reality (AR) and scientific research, the exhibition offers a spectacular panorama of the enormous impact humanity has had on the planet.

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Edward Burtynsky Depicts Our Alien Domain

By Louis Bury

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

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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The Art Gallery of Ontario puts human destruction on display and calls for change

By Fatima Syed
National Observer

When you first walk into the Anthropocene exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario, you stop to watch a man with mismatched boots trudging slowly over a 50-year-old landfill just outside Nairobi, Kenya that was declared full in 2001 and shut down.

You watch the man walk through what looks like a road forming a canyon. It looks like there are mountains on either side of his path, but its actually just one great, continuous mound of discarded plastic of all shapes and colours — the cheapest material to recycle across the world. He keeps walking until he meets a few more people scavenging and sorting through the garbage landscape for small things of value.

The landfill was shut down but is still active, says the description of the video: 2,000 tonnes of waste continue to be dumped there every day. And for the 1 million people who reside on and around it, the site is a primary source of income.

Continue reading the article here.

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Edward Burtynsky – An earthen canvas.

By Deirdre Kelly
Nuvo Magazine

Edward Burtynsky has made his name standing behind the lens. But today he is out front and in focus as the man who would save us from ourselves. It’s mid-morning at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and as the Canadian master photographer strolls through The Anthropocene Project, the acclaimed multidisciplinary exhibition combining large-scale resource extraction images, scientific research, and immersive media, he is recognized by several gallery-goers, who rush over to take his picture. They close in when Burtynsky pauses by a 10-by-20-foot high-resolution mural of a pristine coral bed in Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, one of thousands of images he has made of at-risk ecosystems in a 35-year career documenting the beauty and the brutality of the industrial footprint.

Silhouetted against one of his artworks, Burtynsky’s black suit contrasts sharply with the faded abstract-expressionist colour burst that makes the print look more like a Jackson Pollock painting than a call to action. And he makes no apologies for it. “Aesthetics is still one of the most powerful tools at the disposal of a visual artist,” the 63-year-old Burtynsky says. “Not to engage in a powerfully visual way with the image seems to go in an opposite direction.”

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Art and the Environment: Museums Adjust to a New Climate

By Greg Morrison
Sotheby’s Museum Network

“We cannot take action together on something we don’t discuss,” says Miranda Massie, director of New York’s Climate Museum. She’s referring to the fact that although 65% of Americans purport to be anxious about climate change, only about 5% speak about it.

Her institution, founded in 2015, is working to change that through art and culture. It is the only dedicated climate-change institution in the world, and so far has hosted exhibitions and events in temporary and public spaces across the city. But the museum is currently without a permanent home – a status that reflects how its necessity has only recently been understood, and how the discussion of climate change is only now taking its place at the heart of the cultural world.

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By Holly Hughes

Edward Burtynsky thinks big. Since the 1980s, he has been making large-format images of the extraction and exploitation of natural resources and the impact of these vast operations on the environment. His latest project is his most ambitious to date. In two exhibitions on view now at the National Gallery of Canada in Toronto and the Art Gallery of Ontario, a new book being published by Steidl, and two gallery shows opening in New York City in November, Burtynsky invites viewers to consider the subject of geological time. The title of the project, “Anthropocene,” comes from the name used to describe what, after extensive research, some scientists argue is a new geological epoch, in which dramatic changes to the Earth have been created not by a giant meteor, but by human activity.

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"The Idea is to Raise People’s Awareness of Issues" - an Interview with Andrea Kunard, Curator of Anthropocene

By Anna Savitskaya
Artdependence Magazine

Two simultaneous, complementary exhibitions of Anthropocene opened on September 28th at the National Gallery of Canada (NCG) and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). The website dedicated to the exhibition defines Anthropocene as the current proposed geological epoch, in which humans are the primary cause of permanent planetary change. Three major artists: world-renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky and multiple award-winning filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier have created a powerful combination of photographs, film installations and augmented reality (AR) points. Journeying us to places drastically changed by human life, suffering by way of climate change, mass extinctions, invasive species, technofossils, the terraforming of land, the redirection of water, and anthroturbation, etc.

ArtDependence Magazine had a chance to talk to Andrea Kunard, the curator of Anthropocene at the NGC about the project.

Read the interview here.

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Master photog Edward Burtynsky shows us the lay of the land in new National Gallery exhibit

Lynn Saxberg
Ottawa Citizen

Master photographer Edward Burtynsky has dedicated much of his life to documenting the impact of humans on earth through dramatic, large-format photographs of industrial landscapes around the world.

The St. Catharines-born artist has won numerous awards for his work, and his striking photos are included in the collections of some of the world’s most prestigious institutions, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum, as well as the Tate Modern in London.

Now a powerful new multi-media exhibition, Anthropocene, opens this week at the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario. The accompanying film, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, a TIFF 2018 special presentation, will be screened at the gallery Thursday.

The result of a four-year collaboration between Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier, the Anthropocene project consists of large-scale photographs, films, high-resolution murals with film extensions, and augmented reality installations that bring you into the landscape. The title refers to the proposed geological term for the current epoch, defining an age when human activity has been the dominant force in changing the planet.

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Human-altered landscapes: visions of the Anthropocene

By Zoë Ducklow
National Gallery of Canada Magazine

It was two years ago, while hovering over the Niger Delta in a two-dollar-per-second rented helicopter that Edward Burtynsky saw an oil-soaked scene of apocalyptic scale. Images of oily waterways flicker in dull rainbow hues; landscapes shine black and are littered with scorched trees; a boat speeds away from the helicopter. He had heard about oil theft in the petroleum-rich Nigerian delta, but looking at it from this vantage point, he knew it was something the world hadn’t yet seen.

“They are really tough images. They speak to a very challenging situation,” Burtynsky says. Nigeria has substantial petroleum deposits, with oil and gas pipelines dissecting the delta. Locals siphon oil from pipelines and crudely distill diesel and gasoline – profitable, marketable products. But over half of the crude oil needs sophisticated refining to be turned into anything useful. “They didn’t have a refinery. They couldn’t do anything with it. So they just poured it off on the landscape,” Burtynsky observes. It is unclear how much oil gets siphoned off, but the Nigerian government estimates 250,000 barrels daily, over half of which gets dumped. “These landscapes have oil just oozing out of them.”

The images Burtynsky made that day are one story in The Anthropocene Project, the third collaboration between Burtynsky and documentary filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. (The two previous collaborations were the highly acclaimed Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark.) The project forms the basis of the National Gallery of Canada's multimedia exhibition Anthropocene, which brings together large-scale photographs, twelve film installations and integrated video displays, high-resolution murals and immersive Augmented Reality (AR) sculptures. A simultaneous, complementary exhibition is being held at the Art Gallery of Ontario and another showing will take place at the Fondazione MAST in Bologna next year, all being accompanied by a publication and TIFF 2018 premiere screenings of the film Anthropocene: The Human Epoch.

Read the full article here.

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The Proust Questionnaire: Edward Burtynsky

The Proust Questionnaire started as a Late Victorian parlour game, aimed at revealing key aspects of a person’s character. While still in his teens, author Marcel Proust answered a similar series of questions with such enthusiasm that, when the manuscript containing his original answers was discovered in 1924, his name became permanently associated with this type of informal interview.

Read the Proust Questionnaire with Edward Burtynsky here.

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Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada to co-present major exhibitions detailing the impact of humans on Earth

#AnthropoceneProject unveils new works by the artist collective of Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier

TORONTO and OTTAWA – Next fall, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Canadian Photography Institute (CPI) of the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) will co-present Anthropocene, a major new contemporary art exhibition that tells the story of human impact on the Earth through film, photography, and new experiential technologies. Co-produced with MAST Foundation, Bologna, Italy, the exhibition is a component of the multi-disciplinary Anthropocene Project from the collective of photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. Organized by the artists in partnership with the three organizations, Anthropocene will run at the AGO and NGC simultaneously from September 2018 through early 2019.

Read the Press Release HERE.

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