Last Updated 08 October, 2009
Edward Burtynsky’s stunning large format photographs, having social and political ramifications, are being featured in a show of large color prints, titled: “Oil”. The show is on view at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC.
Burtynsky is a master of the large format camera. While his subject matter might not seem particularly ‘photogenic’; mines, recycling operations, industrial scale industrial structures, the photographs are visually astonishing.
They are evocative not only because of the scale of his subjects, and the ecological impact of their changes to the human landscape, but because he is able to record these subjects in visually mesmerizing detail and depth.
I am at once enthralled and appalled by these photos. Not a mean feat to engage a little-bit-jaded photographer such as myself. At this period in the history of photography, and ‘eco’ sensitivity, we’ve come to expect images of human modified landscapes.
But nothing I’ve seen before in related images quite prepares me for the interplay between industrial scale volumes of structures or materials, and the subsequently poignant impact on our collective human scale lives.
We hire out the creation of mines in the earth to feed our manufacturing of product needs.
We are caught in ever growing spirals of consumption of materials and the oil needed to mine, manufacture, transport and then reclaim them.
We even now recycle cities to make way for our ‘urban renewal’ projects, and the Three Gorges dam.
Burtynsky’s Oil show will be at the Corcoran Gallery of Art through 13 December, 2009 and will travel to other venues (sorry, I have had trouble finding future locations and dates for this show)
All images are Copyrighted by Edward Burtynsky, and are used here with permission for editorial purposes only.
Many of Edward Burtynsky’s photographs are excellently reproduced in these books:
And I really like this DVD documentary about his work, and methods, which also includes stills galleries of his images:
I’m not always taken with the work of many contemporary photographers, but Edward Burtynsky’s work and subject matter are very moving, artistically, politically, and as viewed by this photographer and photo enthusiast.
I hope you find his work as awe inspiring as I do.