Author(s): William A. Ewing
Edward Burtynsky (b. 1955) is one of a generation of photographers, including Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth, who seek to portray the visible outcomes of a globalized economy and humankind's impact upon environments around the world. He has achieved global recognition with his large-scale photographs and project-based monographs, such as Quarries, Oil and Water, all of which have resulted in popular touring exhibitions and, in the case of Water, a feature-length documentary film entitled Watermark. However, while Burtynsky's global standing is without question, no comprehensive retrospective of his career to date exists. Edited and curated by William A. Ewing, Edward Burtynsky: Essential Elements provides an overview of Burtynsky's work across four decades, including both iconic images and previously unpublished photographs. It dissolves previous project-based definitions to set out Burtynsky's oeuvre as five free-flowing sections that provide a sense of both his visual language and his exploration of the dilemmas at the heart of our globalized world. Each of the five sections is interleaved with a selection of texts from previous publications and articles on Burtynsky that work in concert with the photographs to provide a complete understanding of Burtynsky's view of the world. With an introduction by William A. Ewing and an essay by Joshua Schuster, this book provides both an entirely new way of seeing Burtynsky's work for those who already follow his career and an accessible introduction for those encountering his photographs for the first time.