Art, Greenspace January 23, 2012 By Jordan Sayle


Silver Lake Operations # 1,
 Lake Lefroy, Western Australia, 2007 Edward Burtynsky Photography

     A retrospective of his images, covering the period from 1991 – 2008, opens at the University of Wyoming Art Museum later this month and moves to Nashville in a condensed form this summer. The exhibition, entitled “The Industrial Sublime,” showcases Burtynsky’s powerful ability to simultaneously repel and attract with photo illustrations of the very worst toxic blights on the environment that somehow possess alluring qualities usually reserved for something more conventionally picturesque. He calls this mixed reaction one of forbidden pleasure that compels the viewer to take in and contemplate the photographs. Think of them as industrial porn.
     Stretching from Burtynsky’s series on quarries, to his look at the deconstruction of the world’s largest vessels in Bangladesh, to mining operations in Western Australia, the 30 prints on display are dynamic indictments of the harm brought about by modern industry to our natural landscape. Also including selections from his more recent multi-tiered exploration of the world’s oil addiction, they lay bare the underbelly of society that is the cost of life as we live it in the developed world. They function as a collective call-to-arms in the quest to solve the world’s sustainable energy and development challenges, relying on their power as evidence of the dark secrets behind all of the comfortable advancements that enhance our lives.

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