Friday, October 2, 2009

Edward Burtynsky: Oil at the Corcoran

Highway #1, Intersection 105 & 110, Los Angeles, California

Tomorrow the Corcoran opens Edward Burtynsky: Oil, which I think is the most exciting show I've seen there in the three years I've been covering the museum. I wrote a piece for Express on the show, which has comments from curator Paul Roth. An excerpt:

Burtynsky, a Canadian photographer, documents the production, distribution and use of oil and the role it plays in the modern world. The 56 photographs on display depict the effect of oil on our lives, its rising cost and growing unavailability. Over the course of 10 years of work, Burtynsky traveled around the globe to highlight the astounding effects oil has on the planet.

Burtynsky's photographs are printed at large scale, and he looks at everything from aerial views of oil fields and highways that cut through the landscape to the consequences of using oil — look for photographs of abandoned oil derricks, recycling yards and oil tankers.

"Burtynsky does mostly photographs of industrial landscapes," Roth said. "He shoots places that have been changed because of the sheer scale of industry or mechanization or manufacturing, places where there are enormous factories, places where there are enormous holes in the ground, like mines, and places that are changed by our need for things."

The works on display are at once beautiful and terrifying. The extent to which our daily activities have necessitated the destruction of the earth's landscape is astounding. Many of the photographs set these scenes of destruction against rugged mountains or lush greens - the mix of nature and the unnatural is profound. Beautiful shots of a tangle of highways and an artfully arranged lot of cars are deceiving, but where the destruction isn't immediately apparent, it's all right there below the surface. This intersection of art and politics and environmentalism is exceptional - go see it.


Anonymous said...

Awesome. I would like to see this.


Amy Cavanaugh said...

It's really cool! Come visit for a weekend!