Salt Pans is Edward Burtynsky’s newest book in his acclaimed ongoing series of photographs exploring different industrialized landscapes across the world. Consisting of 31 aerial photos of the salt pans in the Little Rann of Kutch, India, the project is the result of months of intricate negotiations and preparations. These striking geometric images, taken in an intense ten-day period during which Burtynsky photographed from a helicopter, present the pans, wells and vehicle tracks as abstract, painterly patterns: subtly colored rectangles crossed by grids of gestural lines. And yet the reality behind the ironic beauty of Burtynsky’s pictures is a harsh one. Each year 100,000 poorly paid Agariya workers toil in the pans, extracting over a million tons of salt from the floodwaters of the nearby Arabian Sea. Furthermore, receding groundwater levels, combined with debt, diminishing market values as well as a lack of governmental support, threaten the future of this 400-year-old tradition and the lives dependent on it. "The images in this book are not about the battles being fought on the ground, Burtynsky writes. "Rather, they examine this ancient method of providing one of the most basic elements of our diet; as primitive industry and as abstract two-dimensional human marks upon the landscape."
Edward Burtynsky was born in 1955 and is one of the world’s most respected photographers. His remarkable depictions of global industrial landscapes are held in the collections of over sixty major museums including the National Gallery of Canada; the Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum in New York; Tate Modern, London; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Burtynsky’s distinctions include the TED Prize, the Rencontres d’Arles Outreach Award. In 2006 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 2016 he received a Governor General of Canada Award in Visual and Media Arts. He holds six honorary doctorate degrees. Burtynsky’s previous publications with Steidl are China (2005), Quarries (2007), Oil (2009) and Water (2013).
Published by Steidl. Text by Marc Mayer, Ted C. Fishman, Mark Kingwell.
Edward Burtynsky's imagery explores the intricate link between industry and nature, combining the raw elements of mining, quarrying, shipping, oil production and recycling into eloquent, highly expressive visions that find beauty and humanity in the most unlikely places. These images are metaphors for the dilemma of our modern existence: we are drawn by desire--the desire to live well and in comfort--yet we all know that the world is suffering to meet those demands. Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into uneasy contradiction and feeds the dialogue in Burtynsky's images between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. Burtynsky's latest body of work gives visual form to the industrial and urban transformation of China, a place where industrial forces are gathering on a scale that the world has never experienced before. If the earth's resources were up to now under siege through Western colonialism and technological progress, then China is on the brink of a sweeping assault on the planet's ecosystem that is only just forming and is nowhere close to expressing its full impact.
Published by Steidl. Text by Russell Lord, Wade Davis.
There is no life without water. This book tells us the story of where water comes from, how we use it, distribute and waste it. Often from a bird's-eye perspective, the photographer shows us its remote sources, remarkable ancient step-wells and mass bathing rituals, the transformation of desert into cities with waterfronts on each doorstep, the compromised landscapes of the American Southwest. Furthermore, Burtynsky explores the infrastructure of water management: the gigantic hydroelectric dams and terraced rice fields in the heart of China, the vast irrigation systems of America's bread basket and the use of aquaculture. The color photographs in this book are poetic and at the same time highly relevant: they reveal another vital component of our life on earth that drives the bloom of civilization, and foreshadow the extent to which our future depends on our everyday behavior in dealing with this increasingly scarce resource.
Published by Steidl. Edited by Marcus Schubert. Text by Michael Mitchell, William E. Rees, Paul Roth.
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 20 years were only made possible by the discovery of oil and the mechanical advantage of the internal combustion engine. It was then that I began the oil project. Over the next ten years I researched and photographed the largest oil fields I could find. I went on to make images of refineries, freeway interchanges, automobile plants and the scrap industry that results from the recycling of cars. Then I began to look at the culture of oil, the motor culture, where masses of people congregate around vehicles, with vehicle events as the main attraction. 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. --Edward Burtynsky
After some 25 years of exploring the impact of industry on our planet, the celebrated Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky has accumulated a substantial body of work documenting the world's major quarries--in Canada, Italy, China, Spain, Portugal, India and America. Quarries are, of course, a crucial source for the buildings we construct, and as such, a negative correlative of what we add to the world--as well as a tangible (and neglected) evidence for our ongoing dependence on its resources. Somewhere a building is being created while a landscape is being destroyed, and, as Burtynsky writes, "quarries…are places that are outside of our normal experience, yet we partake of their output on a daily basis." His images of these plundered landscapes are simultaneously beautiful and disquieting.