Edward Burtynsky has achieved global recognition for his spectacular, large-scale photographs which depict the impact of human activity upon urban and natural environments around the world. They cover such subjects as mines and quarries, the oil industry, ship-building and ship-breaking, water as a resource under threat worldwide, and an emergent China.
Curated by William A. Ewing, this volume, the first comprehensive survey of Burtynsky’s multi-faceted work in over a decade, includes both iconic images and previously unpublished photographs. Relinquishing the project-based lens through which the photographer’s work has previously been presented – the major monographs Oil and Water being the most recent examples – it presents Burtynsky’s photographs in free-flowing sections which combine and contrast work from throughout his career. This original approach provides a sense of both his visual language and his exploration of the dilemmas at the heart of our globalized world. Each section is interspersed with selected texts which work in concert with the images to provide a context and greater understanding of Burtynsky’s view of the world.
With an introduction by Ewing and an afterword by academic Joshua Schuster, Essential Elements provides an entirely new way of seeing Burtynsky’s work for those who are already familiar with it, as well as an accessible introduction for those encountering his photographs for the first time.