Photographer Edward Burtynsky releases his newest project: Water

10 Countries. Five years in the making

TORONTO, Aug. 7, 2013 /CNW/ – In September 2013, world-renowned photographer of the industrial landscape Edward Burtynsky will launch his largest and most remarkable project to date, Water. This release will include a series of dramatic large-format photographs, a new film, Watermark, and Burtynsky’s fifth book, Burtynsky – Water, published by the celebrated fine-art book publisher, Steidl. This work explores in intricate detail humanity’s complex relationship with the world’s most vital natural resource.

A project spanning five years, the photographs, the film Watermark, and Burtynsky – Water book, document the scale and impact of manufacturing and consumption on the world’s water supplies. 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. The photographs, both beautiful and haunting, create a compelling global portrait that illustrates humanity’s past, present and future relationship with the natural world.

Shooting in ten different countries for the Water project, Burtynsky’s subjects include dry-land farming in Spain, pivot irrigation sites in Texas, and the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In these instances, Burtynsky took to the air using conventional helicopters, remote controlled helicopters and 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 cleansing power of 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, and the precious virgin watersheds of British Columbia and the dry beds of the Colorado River Delta.

The feature-length film Watermark (co-directed by Edward Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal, produced and filmed by Nick de Pencier), will be released theatrically by Mongrel Media in Canada in the fall of 2013. The book Burtynsky – Water (228 pages, 114 colour plates / hardcover) will also be released at that time.

“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 photographs will be premiered in Toronto in September at the Nicholas Metivier Gallery followed by eight other commercial exhibitions in cities including: New York (Howard Greenberg Gallery and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery), London (Flowers), Singapore (Sundaram Tagore Gallery), San Francisco (Rena Bransten Gallery) and Cologne (Stefan Röpke Gallery).

Since the early 1990s Nicholas Metivier, owner of the Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto, has been the primary dealer of Edward Burtynsky’s photographs. When they first met, large-scale photography was in its infancy and Metivier was drawn to Burtynsky’s unique eye and the powerful narrative in his work. In 1992, Metivier mounted Burtynsky’s first major commercial exhibition featuring his large-format colour photographs, Quarries. Over the last two decades, they have collaborated on numerous projects including traveling international museum shows and commercial exhibitions.

A touring museum exhibition, Burtynsky – Water, organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), featuring over 60 large-scale prints opens on October 5th, 2013 at the Contemporary Art Centre, New Orleans, and runs until January 19th, 2014.