Monday, November 2, 2009

Edward Burtynsky: OIL

Edward Burtynsky is getting a lot of play this month, but let's all give him a bit more, since (let's be honest) he deserves it.  Burtynsky just came out with a new book with Steidl this fall, OIL, presenting work he has been shooting documenting how the pursuit and dependence on oil has both built and destroyed our world and the culture that has formed around it.

PDN just published a spectacular online interview with him about his work and the current shows of his work at Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., at Hasted Hunt Kraeutler in New York and at Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto:

PDN - "Edward Burtynsky: Economies of Scale"

In the interview with him, Burtynsky mentions how he would rather his work to be seen in an artistic setting rather than an editorial one.  He says,
“I understand that… it has an editorial aspect to it, but nothing I photograph is really a news event…. It’s not an accident, it’s not a disaster, it’s what we’ve done, it’s a conscious act. It’s a story about how we’re evolving our society.”
For photographers working in the same manner and genre of large-format photography and even larger mural-sized prints, such as Robert Polidori, Andrew Moore, and David Leventi (future interview TK), his preference makes a lot of sense.  While at first glance, these photos appear to be "straight" editorial documentation, the opportunity they really offer us in a gallery setting can often be a far more powerful experience than in a news setting.  Standing before them in an exhibition gives us a chance to confront them with the same sense of consciousness of what is taking place in each scene that each of these photographers had in producing these images.  As the viewer becomes submersed in these prints on the wall which fill the field of vision, they are allowed to both observe and compare juxtapositions both micro and macro.

Huge fan of Burtynsky and especially of this work.  It's always great to see photographers that take "documentation" the extra mile and make images worthy and demanding of contemplation.

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