11.17.2006

Edward Burtynsky


Urban Renewal #5
City Overview From Top of Military Hospital Shanghai 2004



Dam #4

Three Gorges Dam Project Yangtze River 2002

Today was a really fantastic install day, I hung three rather large works by the artist Edward Burtynsky. I've been aware of his work for the last couple of years due to being an art preparator at Microsoft, but the works from this series really grab me. The two pictures above are part of three works that I installed today. Big in format and large in subject, Burtynsky's imagery explores the intricate link between industry and nature, combining the raw elements of mining, quarrying, shipping, oil production, and recycling into beautiful, highly expressive visions that find elegance and humanity in the most unlikely places. These images are metaphors for the dilemma of our modern existence: we are drawn in by desire...the desire to live well and in comfort...yet we all know that the world is suffering to meet those demands. The series he entitled China shows our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet. Burtynsky sets us into uneasy contradictions and feeds the dialogue between attraction, repulsion, seduction and fear. Burtysnky's latest body of work gives visual form to the industrial and urban transformation of China, a place where industrial forces are gathering on a scale that the world has never experienced before. If the earth's resources were up to now under siege through western colonialism and technological progress, then China is on the brink of a sweeping assault on the planet's ecosystem that is only just forming and is nowhere close to expressing its full impact. His photos, especially done in the 4"x5" format, capture that. It left me humbled at a place that often leaves me numb.

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