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Press Release

Selections From a Private Collection

September 6 through October 20, 2012
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 6, 7–9 PM

The Fahey/Klein Gallery is pleased to present a selection of work from renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky.  This exhibition, curated (culled) from a private collection, features large format photographs documenting the extraordinary global landscapes created as a result of human industry— mining, quarrying, rail cutting, ship breaking, mass recycling, and oil refining. Produced with exacting detail in large scale, Burtynsky’s photographs exist in a delicate balance between a sobering reality and sublime beauty. 

Specifically, this exhibition features a vignette of Burtynsky’s ambitious effort to document the staggering destruction of the Three Gorges Dam project—the world’s largest hydro-electric engineering feat to control the notoriously tempestuous and equally mythic Yanghtzee River in order to generate power for China’s booming population.  This series, similar in spatial grandeur but palpably different from Burtynsky’s other work, is visually dense, apocalyptic, and ironically beautiful with each monochromatic vista of vast rubble resembling a traditional Chinese watercolor.

Although Burtynsky captures the consequences of our ever expanding footprint, he manages to evade the stereotype of an “environmentalist”, a movement which Burtynsky believes has largely failed.  “It’s about messaging. It’s not about indicting.” Burtynsky has said in a recent interview. His photographs, which rarely contain people, successfully avoid making blanket judgments. “We are implied.  There is an empathetic moment in my work. I see it as a thirty year lament at the loss of nature at our hands, at the expense of our expansion.  Underneath every picture is that fact that nature is being pushed back and our footprint is just getting bigger. And I am that edge… trying to show that we are taking over more and more.” (Spread Art Culture Interview, September 2010).

“Burtynsky’s photographs appear to us as images of the end of time.  The abandoned mines and quarries, the piles of discarded tires, the endless fields of oil derricks, and the huge monoliths of retired tankers show how our attempts at industrial ‘progress’ often leave a residue of destruction.  Nevertheless there is something uncannily beautiful and breathtaking in the very expansiveness of these images – it is as if the vastness of their perspective somehow opens onto the longer view of things.  For Burtynsky, nature itself, over time, can reclaim even the most ambituous of himan incursions into the land.  As long as human needs and desires change, so too will the landscape.” (Lori Pauli, “Seeing the Big Picture”, Manufactured Landcapes, National Gallery of Canada, 2003)

Edward Burtynsky’s work has been exhibited and collected internationally. Burtynsky’s most recent monographs include China, Oil, Quarries, and the museum exhibition catalogue Manufactured Landcapes produced in conjunction with the first major retrospective of Burtynsky’s work organized by the National Gallery of Canada. Among Burtynsky’s many awards and distinctions include the TED prize and The Outreach Award at Recontres d’Arles.  Burtynsky is an active lecturer on photography, and founder and president of Toronto Image Works, a landmark photographic lab and technical education facility in Toronto, Ontario where Burtynsky lives and works.

 “..I try to photograph things that capture our imagination – that aren’t just records of something.  There is a transcendent quality to the pieces that transport us away from reality to a world of wonder—[I want to be able] to show a place that is familiar, yet unfamiliar.” (Burtynsky, Spread Art Culture Interview, September 2010).