Photographer Edward Burtynsky on our Relationship with Water

There is no life without water. Yet, humans continue to control, distribute and waste this precious resource. In his most recent work, Canadian photographer, Edward Burtynsky, captures our relationship with water and the ways in which we use and misuse it. Burtynsky’s ‘Water’ has taken on various forms of multimedia from gallery exhibits to a book and documentary. The work is divided into categories; Distressed, Control, Agriculture, Aquaculture, Waterfront and Source.

Burtynsky, best known for his large-scale photographs of industrial landscapes, has covered topics such as recycling yards, mines, and refineries. In his artist statement, Burtynsky says, “Recycling yards, mine tailings, quarries and refineries are all places that are outside of our normal experience, yet we partake of their output on a daily basis.” In regards to environmental degradation, I think this is the most relevant and meaningful part of his work. We don’t physically experience the resources and processes behind the products we use on a daily basis. Our culture is built on the consumption and eventual discard of things. I don’t hold this completely against us. We are part of a system that favors outsourcing and production on an enormous, global scale. It takes far more audacity to investigate and understand the larger processes we are a part of (and the implications of those processes), than to blindly participate in the purchasing and lifestyle habits readily presented to us. Burtynsky’s work is so incredibly important in that it allows us the opportunity to do the former.

And for a peek at the documentary…

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