Burtynsky: Oil

March 19, 2012 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Events, Photographers | 3 Comments |
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From 19 May 2012 The Photographers’ Gallery will present Burtynsky: Oil, a major solo exhibition of works by renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. Showcasing over thirty images the exhibition will be divided into three sections: Extraction and Refinement describes the process of distillation via aerial views of oil fields, drills and rigs spread across miles of land, networks of pipelines travelling through the countryside and factories constructed as mazes of metal tubes. Transportation and Motor Culture, as made possible through petrol, is depicted in complex images of highway interchanges and connections, panoramas of endless rows of vehicles lined-up in vast parking lots and of car enthusiasts gathered in masses to take part in related events and sporting competitions. The End of Oil displays the consequences of its use as considered by the artist. The Photographers’ Gallery is located at 16 – 18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW.

Website: Edward Burtynsky

The Photographers’ Gallery Press Release

Burtynsky: Oil

19 May – 1 July 2012, Lloyd & 5th Floor Galleries

From 19 May 2012 The Photographers’ Gallery will present Burtynsky: Oil, a major solo exhibition of works by renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. A decade-long survey on the subject, Burtynsky: Oil reveals the rarely seen mechanics of the manufacture, distribution and use of one of the world’s most highly contested resources, while exploring its impact on our lives, culture and the environment.

Invisible, for the most part, in the visual landscape of our everyday lives, we are nonetheless surrounded by it. From the fuel that runs our cars to the synthetic fibres found in our clothes, oil is everywhere. Bridging the disconnect between our consumer world and that of the oil industry, Burtynsky’s large-scale photographs, rich with detail and transfixing in their clarity, take us on a journey. Starting at the source Burtynsky shows us international drilling sites and refineries, then continues to distribution methods and the motor culture of freeways, eventually, leading us to the inevitable end of oil at scrap-yards, recycling grounds and abandoned oil fields.

Showcasing over thirty images the exhibition will be divided into three sections:

Extraction and Refinement describes the process of distillation via aerial views of oil fields, drills and rigs spread across miles of land, networks of pipelines travelling through the countryside and factories constructed as mazes of metal tubes.

Transportation and Motor Culture, as made possible through petrol, is depicted in complex images of highway interchanges and connections, panoramas of endless rows of vehicles lined-up in vast parking lots and of car enthusiasts gathered in masses to take part in related events and sporting competitions.

The End of Oil displays the consequences of its use as considered by the artist. Burtynsky transforms this unprepossessing subject matter into skilfully composed photographs of industrial and manmade landscapes. Epic scenes of demolition document derelict oil tankers split apart while disturbing images of the toxic recycling grounds in Bangladesh reveal the dangerous conditions in which workers operate.

Edward Burtynsky said: In 1997 I had what I refer to as my oil epiphany. It occurred to me that the vast, human-altered landscapes that I pursued and photographed for over twenty years were only made possible by the discovery of oil and the mechanical advantage of the internal combustion engine…These images can be seen as notations by one artist contemplating the world as it is made possible through this vital energy resource and the cumulative effects of industrial evolution.

Burtynsky: Oil was organised in close collaboration with Huis Marseille Museum for Photography in Amsterdam, Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto and the artist himself.


Alberta Oil Sands #2, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada 2007 © Edward Burtynsky
Courtesy Nicholas Metivier, Toronto / Flowers, London



Your Comments

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#1 JS

GREAT, BUT CAN YOU SHOW MORE PICS?

4:42 pm - Monday, March 19, 2012

#2 Zoltan Arva-Toth

We've added a link to the photographer's website.

6:26 pm - Monday, March 19, 2012

#3 NeilSpeers

I've seen his work here in Canada a couple of times and would happily see more. Especially if it's his large prints (actually, call that "massive prints") - they are majestic, grand, and intimate at the same time. Impeccable vision combined with impeccable skill. I'd highly recommend going to see his work whether you're concerned with the environment or if you love great photography.

10:13 pm - Monday, March 19, 2012