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Edward Burtynsky: Water
February 1, 2015 - April 26, 2015



The dramatic large–scale photographs from 2007 – 2013 document the scale and impact of harnessing and consuming the world’s water supplies in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Iceland, Asia, and India. Burtynsky chronicles the various roles that water plays in modern life: as a source of healthy ecosystems and energy, as a key element in cultural and religious rituals, and as a rapidly depleting resource.
 

‘While trying to accommodate the growing needs of an expanding – and very thirsty – civilization, we are reshaping the Earth in colossal ways. Over five years, I have explored water in various aspects: distress, control, agriculture, aquaculture, waterfront, and source,’ states Burtynsky. ‘We have to learn to think more long–term about the consequences of what we are doing, while we are doing it. My hope is that these pictures will stimulate a process of thinking about something essential to our survival, something we often take for granted – until it’s gone.’
 

Burtynsky’s subjects include the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, pivot irrigation sites in Texas, and dryland farming in Spain. In these instances, the artist took to the air using helicopters and a small fixed–wing aircraft, to bring the scale of the human imprint into a more meaningful perspective. He also traveled to photograph millions of people bathing in the sacred Ganges River in India, mega-dam construction on the upper Yangtze and the once–per–year silt release on the Yellow River in China, the precious virgin watersheds of British Columbia, and the dry beds of the Colorado River Delta.

 

Grand Rapids Art Museum
101 Monroe Avenue NW
Grand Rapids, MI