When you have a chance to talk to an artist whose work you’ve admired for years, it’s tempting to get lost in the details of the work, of discussing the whys and wherefores of particular images and the thinking behind them. But with the nature of Edward Burtynsky’s photography and the thickening onslaught of news about climate change, economic dependence on fossil fuels, and, specifically of interest to BC; the drought in California, it is sometimes best to simply talk about what is most pressing and present.
When I first met Burtynsky in 2006 to do a portrait for VR, he was in town to promote the China images being shown at Presentation House. At the time I asked if seeing the planet so thoroughly and irreparably scarred and polluted was taking a personal toll on him. As with his images, which can be simultaneously seductive and appalling, the answer was ambiguous. We need things. We need them to survive and thrive. And there is a cost.
In March, Burtynsky was in town to promote A Terrible Beauty, an exhibit of his work which includes images from his latest body of work on the subject of water. It also coincides with the donation of many pieces to the Vancouver Art Gallery collection. The show runs until May 26th.
For BC and Vancouver viewers, I thought it best to begin by asking his views on the potential impacts we might feel as a result of the massive drought currently affecting California.