World-renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky creates stunning photos—“reflecting pools of our time”—that explore large-scale social, political, and economic issues, including water, oil, and the upheaval caused by rapid industrialization and climate change. On stage, he talks about the connection between art and social transformation, human nature and consumption, and industry and environment.
“What took out the dinosaurs was a meteor impact … we, the human species, are now that impact.”— Edward Burtynsky, The New Yorker
Edward Burtynsky’s remarkable photographic depictions of global industrial landscapes are included in the collections of over fifty major museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His life and work are the subjects of numerous magazine profiles, including The New Yorker, and award-winning documentaries Watermark, Manufactured Landscapes, and Anthropocene, all of which he co-directed with Jennifer Baichwal and Nicolas de Pencier. Anthropocene was recognized by Variety as one of the Best Documentaries of 2019. Watermark was awarded the $100,000 Best Canadian Film Award from the Toronto Film Critics Association.
Burtynsky’s exhibitions, which have all been published as books, include Residual Landscapes, Manufactured Landscapes, Before the Flood, China, Quarries, Oil, and Water. Burtynsky’s photos explore the complicated link between industry and nature, combining the raw elements of mining, quarrying, manufacturing, shipping, oil production, and recycling into highly expressive visions that find beauty and humanity in the most unlikely of places.
“I am not out to tell people a unitary story about what they should do to save the earth but, rather, to give people a picture of what it takes to live the way we do.”— Edward Burtynsky, The New Yorker
Burtynsky is the founder of Toronto Image Works, a custom photo laboratory, digital imaging and new media centre catering to all levels of Toronto's art community. He has spoken widely, including at the Library of Congress in Washington, and was one of the first recipients of the TED Prize. He is also an Officer of the Order of Canada and was named one of Canada’s Greatest Explorers by Canadian Geographic. He is the recipient of the Governor General’s Visual & Media Arts Award. At the 2019 Lucie awards at Carnegie Hall, honoring the greatest achievements in photography, Burtynsky won the award for Achievement in Documentary.
In partnership with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, he announced the creation of The Burtynsky Grant, awarded to a Canadian photographic artist to support the publication of their photography book. In November 2019, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society presented him with the Gold Medal for his work in environmental photography.
Anthropocene The Human Epoch
There is no life without water: the subject of Edward Burtynsky’s newest exhibition and book. In this immersive talk—which features his spectacular photographs—Burtynsky tells us the story of where water comes from, how we use it, distribute it, and waste it. He shows us its remote sources, the transformation of desert into cities with waterfronts on each doorstep, the compromised landscapes of the American Southwest. And, he explores the infrastructure of water management: the gigantic hydroelectric dams and terraced rice fields in the heart of China, the vast irrigation systems of America’s bread basket, and the use of aquaculture. Through his poetic images, Burtynsky reveals a vital component of life on earth, and foreshadows the extent to which our future depends on how we deal with this increasingly scarce resource.
The Landscape of Human Systems
In The Landscape of Human Systems, Edward Burtynsky presents a survey of his work, whether as large-scale colour photographs or more recently in film production, and discusses the intersection of his image-making process as an artist while exploring modern civilization’s troubling relationship with nature.