Edward Burtynsky: Water Online only - Fall 2020

This exhibition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit our Museum@Home for more information and resources.

Virtual Gallery Talk featuring Edward Burtynsky
October 8, 7-8PM ET
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View the entire series online

Edward Burtynsky, Salinas #2, Cádiz, Spain, 2013

Edward Burtynsky: Water traces in intricate detail humanity’s complex relationship with the world’s most vital natural resource through large-scale photographs taken from 2007-2013. This fall, the American University Museum is featuring Water in its virtual series “Contested Space”, which highlights issues surrounding November’s presidential election.

This body of work documents the scale and impact of harnessing and consuming the world’s water supplies in the US, 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.

Image: Salinas #2, Cádiz, Spain, 2013. Digital chromogenic colour print on Kodak Endura Premier paper, 48 x 64 in; framed: 52 3/8 x 68 3/8 in. © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.

Crowd of people by riverside

Kumbh Mela #1, Haridwar, India, 2010. Digital chromogenic colour print on Kodak Endura Premier paper, 48 x 64 in; framed: 52 3/8 x 68 3/8 in. © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.

Edward Burtynsky, Dryland Farming #24, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain, 2010

Dryland Farming #24, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain, 2010. Digital chromogenic colour print on Kodak Endura Premier paper, 48 x 64 in; framed: 52 3/8 x 68 3/8 in. © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.

Edward Burtynsky, Alberta Oil Sands #14, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, 2007

Alberta Oil Sands #14, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, 2007. Digital chromogenic colour print on Kodak Endura Premier paper, 48 x 64 in; framed: 52 3/8 x 68 3/8 in. © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.

Edward Burtynsky, Canada, Oil Spill #5, Q4000 Drilling Platform, Gulf of Mexico, USA, 2010

Oil Spill #5, Q4000 Drilling Platform, Gulf of Mexico, USA, 2010. Digital chromogenic colour print on Kodak Endura Premier paper, 48 x 60 in; framed: 52 3/8 x 68 3/8 in. © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.

Edward Burtynsky, Flood Control Levee, Maasulakte, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2011

Flood Control Levee, Maasulakte, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2011. Digital chromogenic colour print on Kodak Endura Premier paper, 48 x 64 in; framed: 52 3/8 x 68 3/8 in. © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.

Edward Burtynsky, Rice Terraces #3a, Western Yunnan Province, China, 2012

Rice Terraces #3a, Western Yunnan Province, China, 2012. Digital chromogenic colour print on Kodak Endura Premier paper, 48 x 64 in; framed: 52 3/8 x 68 3/8 in. © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.

Edward Burtynsky, Xiaolangdi Dam #3, Yellow River, Henan Province, China, 2011

Xiaolangdi Dam #3, Yellow River, Henan Province, China, 2011. Digital chromogenic colour print on Kodak Endura Premier paper, 48 x 64 in; framed: 52 3/8 x 68 3/8 in. © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.

Edward Burtynsky, Step-well #2, Panna Meena, Amber, Rajasthan, India, 2010

Step-well #2, Panna Meena, Amber, Rajasthan, India, 2010. Digital chromogenic colour print on Kodak Endura Premier paper, 48 x 64 in; framed: 52 3/8 x 68 3/8 in. © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.

Edward Burtynsky, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation / Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, 2010

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation / Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, 2010. Digital chromogenic colour print on Kodak Endura Premier paper, 48 x 64 in; framed: 52 3/8 x 68 3/8 in. © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.

Edward Burtynsky, Pivot Irrigation #11, High Plains, Texas Panhandle, USA, 2011

Pivot Irrigation #11, High Plains, Texas Panhandle, USA, 2011. Digital chromogenic colour print on Kodak Endura Premier paper, 48 x 64 in; framed: 52 3/8 x 68 3/8 in. © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York.

New Orleans Museum of Art

This exhibition was curated by Russell Lord, Freeman Family Curator of Photographs, for the New Orleans Museum of Art in 2013.

Where I Stand: A Behind the Scenes Look at Edward Burtynsky'

Photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal explore the ways in which humanity has shaped, manipulated and depleted one of its most vital and compromised resources: water.

Contsted Space font in red and blue

Presented in conjunction with our virtual series Contested Space.