Over the past two and a half decades, the internationally acclaimed Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky has been an explorer of unfamiliar places where industrial activity has reshaped the land, perhaps altering it forever. His surveys of the man-made terrain of quarrying, mining, rail-cutting, recycling, oil refining, and ship-breaking remind us that these scarified incursions into the earth arise from our existing human needs and desires. With a disturbing eloquence, these stunning photographs transform our notions of the sublime and demand a new awareness of the landscape that progress has created. In this exhibition, Burtynsky offers 20 large-scale, newly completed works from his recent trips to China including images in the categories of manufacturing, recycling, shipbuilding and urban renewal. Another series visits the controversial Three Gorges Dam Project, by far the world’s most extravagant, environmental altering hydroelectric engineering feat, which displaced over 1.2 million people and forever destroyed 11 cities (in less than 6 months). The resulting 400-mile river will supply enough water to generate 84 billion kilowatts-per-hour of electricity replacing the burning of 50 million tons of coal a year. These works from China reinforce Burtynsky’s efforts to illuminate mankind’s intrusion into the natural environment and at the same time, showcase a country whose work force and manufacturing prowess has rapidly exploded into the new industrial revolution (a place of honor once owned by the United States) and is the source of the current and much heated avalanche of international debates.
The Exhibition is touring from the Southeast Centre for Contemporary Art in North Carolina and is curated by David Brown.
Catalogue of the exhibition is published by Steidl.