Two exhibitions of new work by renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky will be on view from September 19 – November 2, 2013, at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery and Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York. The exhibitions, both entitled Water, represent the artist's largest and most remarkable project to date, tracing in intricate detail humanity's complex relationship with the world's most vital natural resource.
The exhibitions coincide with the publication of a new book, Burtynsky – Water, to be published by Steidl in September 2013, and the release of a feature-length documentary film, Watermark. In addition, a touring museum exhibition, Burtynsky – Water, organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), will be comprised of more than 60 works at the Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans, from October 5, 2013 – January 19, 2014.
The dramatic large-scale photographs from 2007 – 2013 document the scale and impact of harnessing and consuming the world's water supplies in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Iceland, Asia, and India. Burtynsky chronicles the various roles that water plays in modern life: as a source of healthy ecosystems and energy, as a key element in cultural and religious rituals, and as a rapidly depleting resource.
"While trying to accommodate the growing needs of an expanding – and very thirsty – civilization, we are reshaping the Earth in colossal ways. Over five years, I have explored water in various aspects: distress, control, agriculture, aquaculture, waterfront, and source," states Burtynsky. "We have to learn to think more long-term about the consequences of what we are doing, while we are doing it. My hope is that these pictures will stimulate a process of thinking about something essential to our survival, something we often take for granted – until it's gone."
Burtynsky's subjects include the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, pivot irrigation sites in Texas, and dryland farming in Spain. In these instances, the artist took to the air using helicopters and a small fixed-wing aircraft, to bring the scale of the human imprint into a more meaningful perspective. He also traveled to photograph millions of people bathing in the sacred Ganges River in India, mega-dam construction on the upper Yangtze and the once-per-year silt release on the Yellow River in China, the precious virgin watersheds of British Columbia, and the dry beds of the Colorado River Delta.
Burtynsky's fifth book, Burtynsky – Water, published by Steidl (228 pages, 114 color plates/hardcover) will be released in September 2013. The book includes essays by anthropologist Wade Davis and New Orleans Museum of Art curator Russell Lord.
The feature-length film Watermark (co-directed by Edward Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal, produced and filmed by Nick de Pencier) will be released theatrically by Mongrel Media in Canada in the fall. More information will be forthcoming about a U.S. release date.
Edward Burtynsky's works are in the collections of over 50 museums worldwide, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; New York; Tate, London; Reina Sophia Museum, Madrid; and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. He is the subject of Jennifer Baichwal's acclaimed 2006 documentary film Manufactured Landscapes, which won numerous awards and was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007. Burtynsky received the inaugural TED Prize in 2005. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006, and has received many other awards. He holds six honorary doctorate degrees, including two he received this spring. Born in Ontario in 1955, Burtynsky lives and works in Toronto.
All images: Copyright Edward Burtynsky.