Thursday, 7 April 2011
The Ed Show opens at ROM
Edward Burtynsky is one of the chosen few. The 56-year old photographer, unlike most of his peer group, is receiving the praise he deserves in his own lifetime. So exactingly perfect are his landscape photographs that the Royal Ontario Museum, best known for dinosaurs and mummies, is breaking from its mandate to present his world traveling one-man show.
"Oil", his 53-image exhibition is so hot that Toronto's media worked hard to see who could write about it first! On the heels of a wave of international media recognition including a double-page spread in the Sunday New York Times the Toronto Star's Murray Whyte got there first.
His favourable review/feature hit the streets just hours before the rest of the media were ushered into the ROM's 4th floor Roloff Beny Gallery. It was a media preview to see this country's most respected large-format landscape photographer.
Television cameras, print journalists, bloggers and even radio stations came out to tour the exhibition. So in demand for interviews, the above picture of Ed Burtynsky and Scotiabank's archivist Jane Nokes was a quickie snap sandwiched in between a CBC National TV interview and a chat with the Globe and Mail.
Edward Burtynsky: Oil is presented by the Ryerson Gallery and Research Centre, the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and Scotiabank Group. The exhibition details how nature is negatively transformed by an oil driven world economy.
Burtynsky follows a bouncing ball made of oil, from the ground (including Canada's oil sands) to surface based refineries. His cameras travel down highways, across oceans and finally end up at the homes of our dirty little secrets - the garbage dumps of the world.
But even while he is photographing horrific refuse sites, Burtynsky is always the consummate landscape artist. He takes a grand panoramic view when photographing spent objects of commerce, be they tires, drive-in restaurants or mothballed engines of war.
In the photograph above he and Nokes stand in front of a photograph where mothballed B-52s, parked in an Arizona desert, have become the landscape. This is a graveyard where US warplanes (capable of carrying nuclear weapons) are put on a desert runway to allow highflying satellites to confirm that they never will fly again. Burtynsky uses his long lens to show the staggering number of gas guzzling warplanes now on the post Cold War SALT scrap heap.
Days after Oil opened to the public; another Toronto institution recognized Burtynsky. On April 14th the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) and BMO Financial Group announced that it would present Edward Burtynsky with the biannual MOCCA Award . This $20,000 award honours a Canadian active in the field of visual arts for innovation, accomplishment or contribution over time, or for a specific project that has national or international significance.
BTW - the 56-year old Canadian photographer is a Ryerson graduate. His first year at Ryerson was my last. We shared one class. He doesn't remember me. Sigh.
Above and Below: Scotiabank Archivist Jane Nokes and photographer Ed Burtynsky attend the Royal Ontario Museum's media preview for the exhibition Edward Burtynsky: Oil. The exhibition is presented by the Ryerson Gallery and Research Centre, the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival and Scotiabank Group.