The Caroline Werner Gannett Project 2007-08
Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky

Canadian photographer of landscape transformed by industry


“The Landscape of Oil”

When: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.
Where: Webb Auditorium
(James E. Booth Memorial Building - 7A)

Movie Screenings--“Manufactured Landscapes,” Jennifer Baichwal’s award-winning documentary on the worlds and work of Ed Burtynsky

When: Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. (First Screening) Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 4:00 p.m. (Second Screening)
Where: Webb Auditorium (First Screening) SAU 1829 (Second Screening)

MFA Photography Graduate student, Chris Toalson, exhibition and talk

When:January 9 to February 5, 2009 (exhibition) Thursday, January 22nd at 5:00 p.m. (talk)
Where: VIA Lab, Wallace Library, 2nd floor, 5 pm (Building 5)

Ed Burtynsky writes: "In 1997, while driving around Northern Ontario photographing mine tailings, I had what I call my "Oil Epiphany." It occured to me that everything I was seeing and doing was predicated on the use of oil. The scale and machinery of the mines, the black top roads that got me to them, the car I drove, the film I shot, the clothes I wore. At that moment I decided to investigate the landscape of oil.

I found the beginning of the American oil boom was at the beginning of the 20th century and did a series around Bakersfield in California. I then went on to take pictures the oil fields in western Canada and Baku, Azerbaijan. I photographed refineries in Texas, Ontario and Nova Scotia. I became intrigued by automobile logistics yards, beauty pagents for transport trucks, motorcycle rallies, freeway cloverleaf interchanges.

In the fall of 2009, after 10 years of creating this body of photographs, I will be producing a book on the subject. There will also be a corresponding exhibition for the Corcoran Gallery in Washington at the same time. This slide show will be a preview of the project and a personal account of my journey in search of that all consuming landscape."

Edward Burtynsky portrait courtesy of Charles Cowles Gallery, New York & Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto

Edward Burtynsky is a Canadian photographer whose breathtaking, large scale industrial landscapes most often depict stunningly beautiful subjects that result from environmentally unsound practices. He calls them "metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogues between attraction and repulsion...". Burtynsky studied at Ryerson Polytechnic Institutute and Niagara College. His work has taken him around the world, including to China, where he photographed the construction of the Three Gorges Dam Project, which required the relocation of 1.13 million Chinese in order to flood 600 kilometers of land that will increase the hydroelectric yield in order to satisfy the needs of industrial and commercial interests. His book "Manufactured Landscapes" was the basis for an award-winning 2006 documentary that was shown at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Recently, Burtynsky was awarded the Canadian Environmental Award's Ideas for Life Award. This award is given for outstanding efforts that increase environmental awareness or the conservation, restoration or sustainability of Canada's environment through excellence in the arts, entertainment or design. In 2005, Burtynsky was awarded a TED prize that came along with three wishes, one of which was: I wish my artwork could persuade millions of people to join a global conversation about sustainability.

Burtynsky and students. Image credit A. Sue Weisler.

Links: Burtynsky: Quarries  Burtynsky: China  Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky   Vanishing Landscapes