Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky has spent the last twenty-five years exploring unfamiliar places, where industrial activity has reshaped the surface of the land. His photographs of the man-made terrains that result from quarrying, mining, railcutting, recycling, oil refining, and shipbreaking do not simply show us the disturbing consequences of human industry, they also reveal an unexpected beauty, subverting our usual notions of the sublime in nature and leading us to a new awareness of the landscape of our times.
Most recently, Burtynsky has spent time in China, where he first went to document the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, the largest project of its kind and one that will displace approximately 1.5 million people by the time it is finished. Burtynsky’s photographs of China—which include images of people disassembling their own towns, brick by brick—testify to a country that is growing and changing so rapidly that it may soon be unrecognizable.
Edward Burtynsky’s works show us beauty where we thought there was none. He understands how to capture images of a disappearing civilization before they are lost forever. He brings us closer to our world and allows us to see it, as if for the first time.
Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky is organized and circulated by the National Gallery of Canada. The Brooklyn Museum presentation is made possible in part by the Parnassus Foundation, courtesy of Jane and Raphael Bernstein. Additional support is provided by the Andrew J. and Christine C. Hall Foundation, Nancy and Rob Grover, and other generous donors.
— Marilyn Kushner
Curator and Chair Prints, Drawings and Photographs