The power of Edward Burtynsky’s landscape photographs is undeniable. Their sweeping aerial perspectives are shot in a style that verges on abstraction without losing their figurative referent. The breathtaking, large-scale images depict landscapes altered and scarred by human industry and development. The stepped terraces and switchback roads of a dusty, Mars-red mining site resemble the desiccated ruins of an ancient civilization (“Tyrone Mine #3, Silver City, New Mexico, USA,” 2012). A taupe jigsaw of desert roads connecting brine wells evokes a circuit diagram (“Brine Wells #1, Salt Flats, Atacama Desert, Chile,” 2017). Burtynsky’s intricately patterned and textured landscapes possess a crop-formation exoticism; yet it turns out that we humans are the architects of this unnerving and seemingly alien terrain.
For all their considerable power, Burtynsky’s Romantic forms are in tension with their unromantic contents, a contrast articulated by the works’ informational titles. The Art Gallery of Ontario’s blockbuster Anthropocene exhibition — featuring rows of Burtynsky landscapes, accompanied by the like-minded films of Jennifer Baichwal and Nicolas de Pencier — handles this tension by placing the images’ labels on the floor, emphasizing their subordinate role. This apt and telling sightline hierarchy is of a piece with the landscapes themselves, whose aerial vantages position the viewer, god-like, above the fantastic scene. In rendering our species alien to itself, the images’ aestheticized, supra-human perspective reinforces our preference to marvel, on occasion, rather than confront daily, the spectacle of our own destructiveness. These exhilarating portrayals of civilization’s ecological self-estrangement are not quite the images we need, but they are the ones we deserve.
Anthropocene continues at The Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas St W, Toronto) through Jan. 6, 2019.
“You can’t have idols; it’s in the second commandment,” he screamed before being arrested.
The Mexican artist confronts gun violence and nuclear power through sculpture, print, performance, and video work.
Ten artists will receive studio space and access to faculty, staff, students, workshops, and programming at an arts institution in the heart of Philadelphia.
Manhattan now has its own, downscaled version of the artist’s famous Chicago sculpture, oddly squished under a luxury condo tower.
Increased oil tanker truck traffic would “seriously degrade” the experience of viewing the canyon’s Indigenous rock art, said one advocate of the site.
Join the New-York Historical Society on February 10 for a virtual conversation about our changing relationship to the natural world with Julie Decker, John Grade, and LaMont Hamilton.
Jafar Panahi was arrested last July, after he participated in protests at the notorious Evin prison.
Designed by artist Christine Egaña Navin, the items will be offered by Project Art Distribution at this weekend’s NADA Flea Market.
The French painter felt he had to rise to the challenge of one question above all things else: What exactly is it to be a modern artist?
Philipsz’s haunting sound and video artworks serve as a poignant witness to the lives and artistry of victims of the Holocaust.