A strong advocate of the environment, Edward Burtynsky has been tirelessly exploring the landscapes shaped by human industrial activity for over twenty years (mines, quarries, refineries, shipyards, marine industries, recycling factories and so on).
Water is without a doubt his largest project to date, bringing together admirably composed images of an abstract beauty, and completely untampered with. Dams (Xiaolangdi dam, Yellow River, Henan Province, China, 2011), pivot irrigation system (Arizona, 2011), geothermal plant (Baja, Mexico, 2012), oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (2010)… The results of this exploration are absolutely breathtaking. The large-format photos are tremendously powerful in the energy they give off … To document Oil, another fundamental subject, Burtynsky made several trips to India, Bangladesh, Canada, the US, China and Azerbaijan … He observed, pinpointed, composed and photographed what he refers to as his “oil epiphany”: the oil derricks, the tar sands in Alberta, the motorway networks in the US (Los Angeles, Houston, Las Vegas) and China (Shanghai), the abandoned oil fields in Azerbaijan and shipbreaking in Chittagong, Bangladesh...
Edward Burtynsky's "intentional" landscapes are shown in a “sublime” manner - more precisely, a "technological sublime" manner. An essential one that enables him to get across his message. So that the onlooker's experience is a truly “immersive” one.
© Birgit Kleber
Edward Burtynsky was born in 1955 into a Ukrainian family in Saint Catharines, a town south-west of Ontario, Canada, where the industrial landscape was very much shaped by the production sites of General Motors. He lives and works in Toronto. He graduated from Ryerson University (BAA Photography/Media Studies) in Toronto in 1982.
In 1985, he founded Toronto Image Works, a photography studio.
His pictures are published in the English-speaking press at regular intervals, for example: National Geographic Society, Art in America, Art news, Flash Art, Art Forum, Canadian Art, The Smithsonian, Blind Spot, Playboy, The New York Times, The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Glob and Mail and Harper’s Magazine.