Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Burtynsky Documents Water

. . . water, unlike oil, is not optional.
Without it we perish.
~ Edward Burtynsky, Artist's Statement

One of the world's great photographers, Canadian Edward Burtynsky has a special reverence for our environment and a particular eye for its wreckage. His astonishingly beautiful images of destruction are, as he describes them, "metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence;. . . reflecting pools of our times."

For his latest years-long project, Burtynsky turned his attention to water, collaborating with filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier to produce the important documentary Watermark (2013). Releasing to theatres in Canada on October 11, the 92-minute, high-definition film looks at how we humans use, manipulate, pollute, waste, and deplete the most precious of our increasingly scare resource: water. (The trailer is below.)

In addition to the film, Burtynsky has published Burtynsky | Water (Steidl, 2013), a monograph that includes 114 breathtaking photographs that document, indeed foretell, the "engineering [of] our own demise." Burtynsky | Water also is available as an app for iPad; audio commentary is provided for 57 of the 114 color images.

Cover of Burynsky - Water

During his five-year project, Burtynsky traveled to nine countries, including the United States, shooting his photographs from "up high . . . from a bird's eye perspective" while in aircraft of various types. His images, as he recounts in his informative and beautifully written Artist's Statement, are grouped into six categories: Distress, Control Agriculture, Aquaculture, Waterfront, Source. Burtynsky describes the work he has created as "some of [his] most poetic and abstract".

The gorgeous, revelatory photographs, a selection of which may be seen here, are on view at a number of venues in the United States, including the New Orleans Museum of Art (the show of 60 large-format color photographs runs through January 19, 2014), and abroad. (See Exhibitions for details about locations and dates.) Our danger in looking at them is to see only their beauty. 

Here's the trailer for the film, which was an official selection at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival:

A behind-the-scenes look is offered in this video essay, titled "Where I Stand":

Of Interest

Article and Slideshow, "Water Wonderland" at The Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2013

James Adams, "With Watermark, Burtynsky and Baichwal Finally Go With the Flow", The Globe and Mail", September 5, 2013

Barbara Davidson: "reFramed: In Conversation with Edward Burtynsky", Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2013

Marc Glassman, "Watermark: Interview with Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier", POV Magazine, September 4, 2013

Daniel Baird, "Planet Water: Edward Burtynsky's New Film Partnership", Canadian Art, August 30, 2013

Edward Burtynsky's Manufactured Landscapes on YouTube

Edward Burtynsky at TED (TED Talk)

Edward Burtynsky at Prix Pictet

Watermark on FaceBook

Edward Burtynsky on Twitter

Nick de Pencier on Twitter

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the word "perish" has a way of getting a person's attention.