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.
Although Khedoori does not depict living beings, their presence is evoked in the traces they leave behind.
The Bronx Museum’s fifth biennial continues to focus its programming on individual identity, eliding the ever-divergent interests of the art market and local communities.
Part of the university’s Artists on the Future series pairing renowned artists with cultural thought leaders, this online event is free and open to the public.
While it may be strange to think of food insecurity as a basis for art, the works in Food Justice reveal barriers and injustices in food access.
Shiv would definitely have a Chihuly chandelier.
“[The art market] provides an opportunity for people to move money in a way that they can’t with other commodities,” says FBI Special Agent Chris McKeogh.
Black American Portraits features over two centuries of artworks centering Black artists and subjects.
Weisman Museum of Art Presents Highlights From the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection
An exhibition at Pepperdine University in Malibu chronicles the achievements and contributions of African Americans over the last five centuries.
A love of Black art and history was the bedrock of the friendship between Dell Marie Hamilton and Susan Denker, who had markedly different racial, economic, and generational subject positions.
With what he says is his final museum bow, Fitzpatrick shines a light on the colorful diversity that composes his city.
The question of race — however hidden, however camouflaged by the shouts of the crowds — is a constant theme and an unanswered challenge.