Posts Tagged ‘Edward Burtynsky’

ECOAESTHETIC: The Tragedy of Beauty

June 15, 2010

ECOAESTHETIC is an annual summer experience of environmental issues affecting our visual world and spiritual selves through exhibitions and special events.

ECOAESTHETIC: The Tragedy of Beauty is the first exhibition of SEA to be mounted in Exit Art’s main gallery. In keeping with SEA’s mission to present artworks that address socio-environmental concerns – and to unite artists, scholars, scientists and the public in discussion on these issues –ECOAESTHETIC will establish a summer encounter of social and environmental projects. Through the work of nine international photographers, it approaches the mystery of beauty in the natural and built environment, which can be destructive or utopian.

The Tragedy of Beauty will focus on photography of land where the tragedy of the image becomes the aesthetic of the environment. The artists in this exhibition do not have a passive engagement with the environment; rather, they seek out beautiful and tragic images to emphasize the human impact on fragile ecosystems, to elucidate our relationship to nature, and to visualize the violence of natural disasters. The purpose of The Tragedy of Beauty is to demonstrate that global environmental struggles are creating an aesthetic.

In conjunction with The Tragedy of Beauty, Exit Art will also create a collective terrarium in its two ground floor windows facing 36th Street and 10th Avenue. For this project, the public has been invited to bring a plant and a photo of themselves with the plant to Exit Art, in order to contribute to a communal garden that gives a presence to the local environmental movement.

Curated by Papo Colo, Jeanette Ingberman, Lauren Rosati and Herb Tam.

Edward Burtynsky (Canada); Mitch Epstein (USA); Anthony Hamboussi (USA); Chris Jordan (USA); Christopher LaMarca (USA); Sze Tsung Leong (USA); David Maisel (USA); Susannah Sayler/The Canary Project (USA); Jo Syz (UK)

Exit Art
475 Tenth Ave
New York, NY 10018

T. 212 966 7745
F. 212 925 2928

Gallery Hours:
Tuesday – Thursday 10:00am – 6:00pm
Friday 10:00am – 8:00pm
Saturday 12:00pm – 8:00pm

Opening Reception: Friday June 16, 2010, 7-10 pm.
Dates of Exhibition: June 18 – August 18, 2010.


Edward Burtynsky’s “Oil” at Hasted Hunt Kraeutler

November 20, 2009

SOCAR Oil Fields #6, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2006 Digital Chromogenic Color Print 48 x 72" ed of 6 © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy of HASTED HUNT KRAEUTLER, NYC / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto.

Upon heading to Burtynsky’s gallery here in NYC, Charles Cowles, to check out his latest show, “Oil”, I realized something was off. I was no longer in Charles Cowles. I then heard a familiar voice in the back of the gallery, and lo and behold, it was of Bill Hunt, the former photo director of Hasted/Hunt , and prior to that, Ricco/Maresca, where I worked a few years ago. Bill and Sarah (Sarah is the Hasted part of the equation), went off on their own a few years ago, and more recently, joined forces with Joseph Kraeutler in taking over Charles Cowles former space on 24th St. in Chelsea after he retired. They also took over Burtynsky’s exclusive NY representation. “Oil”, showing simultaneously at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC as well as Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto from where Burtynsky hails, is a long-term project based over the past 12 years during which Burtynsky followed the oil industry all over the world.

Oil Fields #19a, Belridge, California, USA, 2003 Digital Chromogenic Color Print 35.5 x 77.5" ed of 10 © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy of HASTED HUNT KRAEUTLER, NYC / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto.

Russia, California, Detroit, Texas, the Middle East, Canada… are just a few of the locations Burtynsky traveled to in search for evidence of the industry that has shaped our society, economy, and way of life for the past 100 years. An industry which must change, or we will suffer the consequences, as we have already seen begin. The work is in traditional Burtynsky style– very large prints, shot mostly from above, and with the vantage point of monumental scale that we sometimes take for granted. Burtynsky is truly connecting our every day lives– our SUVs, plastic packaging, single use/single serving society– with what that means and looks like from start to finish, from extraction to consumption. From the vast views of Los Angeles oil fields to the overhead shot of its freeways, he is directly relating cause and effect, decision and consequence, origin and destination.

Highway #5, Los Angeles, California, USA, 2009 Digital Chromogenic Color Print 60 x 75" ed of 3 © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy of HASTED HUNT KRAEUTLER, NYC / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto.

The images are all gorgeous, despite levels of disgust at realization of what we’re looking at, many shot during the magic hour and printed with beautiful subtle tones and colors, bringing the viewer into an appreciation of the inherent beauty of the prints and images, while simultaneously showing us what we have done to our landscape and environment with no holds barred.

Jet Engines, Tucson, Arizona 2006 Digital Chromogenic Color Print © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy of HASTED HUNT KRAEUTLER, NYC / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto.

“Oil” is on view through November 28th at Hasted Hunt Kraeutler at 537 W. 24th St. New York, NY 10011. And if you’re in DC, be sure to check out the simultaneous show at The Corcoran exhibiting a massive 60 prints from this series. In addition, a new book, Burtynsky’s fourth, titled “Edward Burtynsky: Oil” has just been published by Steidl. Purchase it here. To preview the images in the book simply view the amazing amount of work Burtynsky has dedicated to the subject of oil on his website.

Prix Pictet 2009 Shortlist Announced

July 10, 2009
Andreas Gursky, Untitled XIII, 2002

Andreas Gursky, Untitled XIII, 2002

From the official press release: GENEVA & ARLES, France– A shortlist of twelve outstanding international photographers, from which one will be selected later this year to receive the Prix Pictet, the world’s photography prize for environmental sustainability, was announced today at Europe’s leading photography festival, Les Rencontres d’Arles in France.

The prize is supported by Swiss bank Pictet & Cie. Photographers shortlisted for the £60,000 (CHF100,000) first prize are:

Darren Almond, UK; Christopher Anderson, Canada; Sammy Baloji, Congo; Edward Burtynsky, Canada; Naoya Hatakeyama, Japan; Andreas Gursky, Germany; Nadav Kander, South Africa; Ed Kashi, USA; Abbas Kowsari, Iran; Yao Lu, China; Edgar Martins, Portugal and Christopher Steele Perkins, UK.

The Prix Pictet is an annual search for photographs that communicate powerful messages of global environmental significance under a broad theme. This year the theme is ‘earth’. A Mexican garbage dump where people forage to sustain a pitiful existence; the changing landscape and displaced communities of China’s Yangtze River; the devastating impact of oil production in the Niger Delta; and the annual pilgrimage to the desert fronts of the Iran-Iraq war are among the subjects that feature in the work of this year’s shortlisted artists.

The submissions speak of the harmful and often irreversible effects of exploiting the earth’s resources and reflect on the immediate and long-term impact of unsustainable development on communities across the globe.

Earth’, a book published by teNeues, cataloguing the work of the Prix Pictet nominees will accompany this year’s prize and launched on 6 October at Purdy Hicks Gallery, London.

The winner will be announced by Kofi Annan, honorary president of the Prix Pictet, on 22 October 2009 at the Passage de Retz gallery, Paris. A further award, in the form of a commission for one of the shortlisted photographers to visit a region where Pictet & Cie are supporting a sustainability project, will be announced at the same time.

Prix Pictet will collaborate with FIAC (22 – 25 October), Paris’ major international contemporary and modern art fair, and Paris Photo, the world’s leading event for photography (19 – 22 November).

An independent jury of seven leading figures from the worlds of the visual arts and the environment, chaired by the photography critic, Francis Hodgson, made the selection from over 300 nominations put forward by the seventy Prix Pictet nominators – a group that includes leading critics, practitioners and curators.

Nicolas Pictet, Partner of Pictet & Cie, said ‘The calibre of the shortlisted work for this second year of the Prix Pictet illustrates how the issue of sustainability resonates throughout the artistic community. We strongly believe that by bringing these images to the attention of the world, Prix Pictet will further highlight the devastating effect climate change is having on our planet and ensure sustainability remains at the heart of global policy making.’

Awarding the inaugural Prix Pictet to Canadian photographer Benoit Aquin last October, Kofi Annan said: ‘It is my hope that the Prix Pictet will help to deepen understanding of the changes taking place in our world and raise public awareness about the urgency of taking preventative action.’


I’m not surprised to see most of the photographers who’ve made the shortlist, except for one. Edgar Martins. It’ll be very interesting to see if the latest controversy over the pulled NY Times images affects his candidacy negatively. The shortlist results came in only a few hours ago, and I would think the news of the controversy and ultimate withrawl of images from the NYT site hit France as soon as it did here in NYC, especially since the shortlist was announced from one of the largest photo festivals in the world.

I have been a fan Martins’ extensive bodies of work over the years, and loved Topologies. I find it hard however to now believe his black skies were all done within camera. I have no problem with darkroom techniques like dodging, burning, contrast or softening tools, etc. Or even with digital manipulation if that’s how it’s labeled. But to misrepresent your work in a way the public believes to be true goes against the ideology behind his work. Gursky on the other hand, while he doesn’t reveal the step-by-step process of his pictures, does say there is digital alteration and manipulation present in his work. Does it make it any less respectable? No, because it’s there for us to take into account and put into the context of his ideas and the respective images he creates from those ideas. Photographs are after all constructs of ideas that originate in less tangible forms.

Stay tuned on how this plays out in this most coveted of environmental photography prizes.

Reflected Light IV

January 30, 2009

I was lucky enough to attend the annual Riverkeeper Art Auction in New York City, this year’s taking place in Frank Gehry’s gorgeous glass IAC building in Chelsea. The event was star studded, with celebrities Richard Gere, Lauren Hutton, Matt Dillon, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (who is on the board of directors), hosting. Debbie Harry, aka Blondie, was the entertainment for the evening and brought back some memories for all of us, as well as some dance moves.

If you’re not familiar, Riverkeeper is “an independent, member-supported environmental organization founded on the premise that citizens themselves must roll up their sleeves to defend our waterways. They were originally founded in 1966 by fisherman and local community, to confront polluters for control of the Hudson River. They use a variety of tools to carry out their mission as environmental watchdog and advocate. These tools include: Enforcement and Litigation, Public Policy and Advocacy, Scientific Research, Smart Growth Initiatives, Citizen Watchdogs, Education and Public Awareness, and Grassroots Organizing. They have successfully investigated and prosecuted hundreds of environmental lawbreakers (including General Electric, ExxonMobil, Con Ed, the City of New York, the MTA, and the NY State Dept. of Transportation), and are credited with leading the battle to defend the Hudson River and New York City’s drinking water supply.”

The auction was very successful, due not just to Riverkeeper’s hard work and perseverance toward the cause, but also because of the amazing art work that was donated. Edward Burtynsky, Katherine Wolkoff, Tierney Gearon, Alexander Calder, David Maisel, William Wegman, and many other fantastic artists donated images, unique commissions, or photographs from their collections. But it’s not over yet, partnered with CharityBuzz, an international auction site with unique lots and experiences, has allowed Riverkeeper to maintain several items past their silent and live auction held the other night, one of which is a “study photography trip” to Santorini Greece for you and a guest with photographer William Abranowicz that includes daily photography lessons and excursions. I don’t know about you, but Santorini is sounding pretty good compared to the freezing temps here in New York. To bid on this exciting trip, visit the Riverkeeper Art Auction online via CharityBuzz by clicking here. The auction closes on February 2nd.

And to learn more about Riverkeeper, both for the Hudson as well as the many partner Riverkeepers they have founded all over the country, visit their website

Here is a quick sneak peak at some of the photographs still up for bidding until February 2nd. You can click on the images to take you directly to the respective auction lot.

Amy's Theorem, Archival Pigment Print by Victor Schrager, 11"x13.5"

Amy's Theorem, Archival Pigment Print by Victor Schrager, 11"x13.5"

TV in the Sand, Archival Pigment Print by Stephen Wilkes, 24"x30"

TV in the Sand, Archival Pigment Print by Stephen Wilkes, 24"x30"

Vanishing Landscapes

January 24, 2009


For a Christmas gift I received a book from the top of my Amazon wish list, titled Vanishing Landscapes, recently published by Francis Lincoln Limited Publishers. It contains a collection of stunning photo essays by a renowned group of photographers all interested in capturing the beauty and fragility of our rapidly changing world. As you know, this isn’t always positive, especially when you’re looking at clear cut forests and icebergs you know are melting at a rate that will mark them extinct in our lifetime. At the same time however, these wondrous images tell the stories of a landscape longing to be preserved and asking for our attention and help.

Deterioration and death are often portrayed in a very beautiful way, thus changing the viewers perception of often brutal and unimaginable subject matter. However, this group of photographers along with the images chosen to represent them in this book, seem to ask questions of the viewer prompting change. One wonders how society can continue to act in a way that detrimentally affects the environment, especially when aware of these incredible landscapes all over the world. However, some don’t come to these realizations when viewing these images. I certainly do, but does the general public? I believe in the strength of the environmental movement and it’s advancement in social and environmental awareness, but I only wish that art and the media could affect people and their thoughts and actions more directly.

In a world where you’re inundated with both images and sound bites on a daily basis wherever you look, it’s hard to filter through all the crap, in order to get to the good stuff. Some people are better than others of course, especially when they’ve set that as a goal. But the general public– how much do they WANT to know about these issues? Do they at all? How many times have you heard people complain that they are sick and tired of hearing about eco this, green that, environmentally sound this, sustainable that. I hear it all the time. It can be very discouraging, when you know you are doing everything you can to help, and everything you can to increase awareness in a way that does NOT push people away. But sometimes, getting through to just one person can make a huge difference. By changing one person, you could potentially change someone in their network, and thus someone in their network, and the cycle continues. This happened to me the other day, and it made me feel like things are happening. People are willing to change. They sincerely want to. But they can’t if they aren’t aware of both what their actions are doing as well as how they could change them.

Vanishing Landscapes contains 4 chapters; water, ice, plants, and land. In an introduction by Nadine Barth, the book’s editor, she states, ” Ultimately all we can do is hope that by viewing these images we shall finally come to our senses.” She’s hit the nail on the head. The images in the book illustrate what is stated in the essays following Barth’s introduction. Friedrich Tietjen writes “Discoveries in a Familiar World: The Landscape as a Photographic Object”; John Berger “On Visibility”; a transcript from an interview with Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Change Impact Research, who also happens to be the official advisor to the German government on questions of climate change and energy; and finally an essay by Karsten Smid of Greenpeace titled “Why We Must Act Now.” These essays are exceptional, giving information first hand and straight to the point, answering questions like which landscape is the first to go, how soon, etc. Viewing the photographs again, after reading the essays, is a completely different experience. While I at first saw them as lonely and melancholy knowing the fate they are facing, a renewed sense of urgency came forth when viewing them a second time. Photographers included are: Hiroshi Sugimoto, Elger Esser, Peter Bialobrzeski, An-My Le, Josef Hoflehner, Axel Hutte, Olaf Otto Becker, Mette Tronvoll, Walter Niedermayr, Michael Kenna, Jitka Hanzlova, Thomas Struth, Robert Adams, Giovanni Castell, Henrik Saxgren, Joel Sternfeld, Jem Southam, Lidwien van de Ven, Edward Burtynsky, Karin Apollonia Muller, and Per Bak Jensen.

The book is available on Amazon.

Edward Burtynsky: Oil

September 7, 2008

The Toronto based Edward Burtynsky is probably one of the biggest players in the world of photography on the subject of both man’s interference with and simultaneous reliance on nature such as his work showcasing railcuts, homesteads, mines, metal tailings, rock quarries in Iberia, China, and closer to home in Vermont, not to mention an extensive body of works on ship breaking, recycling, ports, and the rebar industry. Burtynsky is fascinated by our need for this interference in order to live in abundance of “good living” with the cars that take us from place to place, the gadgets that keep us connected, the clothes that give us our identities. These are all non-necessary to our actual survival and continued existence, yet to many in this modern time, that is merely an after thought, if any thought at all.

How many times have you heard someone say they can’t live without their iphone? And who can forget the tired but successful slogan of American Express that feeds into the consumer culture of Americans– “Don’t Leave Home Without It.” Burtynsky seeks out subjects which are not predominantly in the forefront of our minds, like that of recycling yards, mass production factories, oil refineries– but that are ever present and growing because of our “need” for modern, luxurious, amenities, or as some call them necessities. He uses scale, vantage point, and specific angles to give context about the sheer size and vastness of his subject matter.

Below are a few selected images from Burtynsky’s work about oil refineries. These are landscapes you might not necessarily think of when you hear political candidates speak about on shore or off shore drilling as America’s “answer” to rising fuel prices. However, these are landscapes that are probably near to someone you know. Near their home, near their children’s school, near their office, near the “natural” park or beach where they go to escape the hustle and bustle of a city. And at the rate we’re going, they could be cropping up in pockets all over this country, not just in the alien lands the majority of Americans have never visited and just seen on the news. In fact, just last summer when I drove down the beach from Malibu through Venice past Long Beach and down to Laguna beach, I saw well after well after well drilling in front of property, house, beach, between restaurants… They dotted what was once one of the most beautiful coastlines I had ever seen. No more.

Oil Fields No. 1, Belridge, California 2002.

Oil Fields No. 1, Belridge, California 2002.

Oil Fields No. 13, Taft, California 2002.

Oil Fields No. 13, Taft, California 2002.

Oil Fields No. 10, California 2002.

Oil Fields No. 10, McKittrick California 2002.

And because China is in the limelight right now with Olympic coverage, I want to share an image of Burtynsky’s from his series on the Three Gorges Dam, which I’ve written about before with the work of Stephen Wilkes. Many more can be seen on his website by clicking here. I can’t help but shake my head in awe. Burtynsky captured this scene of people still living their daily lives amongst the rubble of construction and evident displacement in light that highlights the dust and debris everywhere you look. How can people live, much less breathe, in a place like this you might ask? They have no choice. For them, it IS a matter of survival and continued existence, due directly to our interference with and reliance on nature. Can you see the nature in this image? Exactly the point. I urge you to view more of Burtynsky’s work by visiting his website.

Three Gorges Dam Project, Feng Jie #5, Yangtze River, China 2002.

Three Gorges Dam Project, Feng Jie #5, Yangtze River, China 2002.

Prix Pictet Shortlist: Photographic Award in Sustainability

July 31, 2008

The Prix Pictet is a major new global prize in photography that focuses on perhaps the greatest single issue of the twenty-first century: sustainability. Over 40 nominators consisting of well known and esteemed gallerists, curators, directors, and editors nominated well over 200 photographers spanning 43 countries for this award, which is generally seen as the highest there is in terms of photography and the environment. 18 photographers were shortlisted by a group of highly regarded judges, including the work of Mary Mattingly, a former class mate of mine from Parsons School of Design. The photographers chosen have produced work of great significance and importance, focusing on urgent environmental issues. The prize awarded will be $100,000 for the winning photographer, as well as shortlisted artist offered a commission worth $40,000 to produce a water related project. To download the official press release please click here.

Shortlisted artists are:

Benoit Aquin
Edward Burtynsky
Jesus Abad Colorado
Thomas Joshua Cooper
Sebastian Copeland
Christian Cravo
Lynn Davis
Reza Deghati
Susan Derges
Malcolm Hutcheson
Chris Jordan
Carl De Keyzer
David Maisel
Mary Mattingly
Robert Polidori
Roman Signer
Jules Spinatsch
Munem Wasif

Each of these shortlisted photographers will be invited to show their work at the Palais de Tokyo in October and run through November, after which the show will be begin a world tour. Take a look at some of the images of each artist. They are powerful, devastating, beautiful, and extraordinary, all at the same time. I highly recommend reading the press release to find out more about each individual artist and their background, as well as the prize and how it’s come about. For me, to see a group of photographs whom I literally think of as the best in the world, competing for a prize that can have no better aim than sustainability in our world and communication into the devastating affects of climate change, I say, it’s about time.


Chris Jordan: Remains of a business, St. Bernard Parish
Series: In Katrina’s Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster

To visit the Prix Pictet site please visit