Edward Burtynsky

EDWARD BURTYNSKY "FENG JIE #5, YANGTZE RIVER, CHINA" 2002

Edward Burtynsky (b. 1955) is one of Canada's most successful photographers.

A noted filmmaker, entrepreneur, and environmental advocate, Burtynsky is known internationally for his images documenting the consequences of industry on the environment.

Burtynsky presents the extreme and fascinating evidence of global industrial change. His images present a tension between beauty and desecration. His best work offers unbelievable landscapes, including a level of detail normally impossible for the human eye to comprehend.

This work, taken from Burtynsky's 2002 "China" series, documents the massive landscape transformation that took place to facilitate China's Three-Gorge Dam project. The dam was implemented to control flooding along the Yangtze River but as a result, would ultimately lead to nearly 632 square kilometers of land completely submerged by the newly created reservoir.

To accommodate the project, over a million people were forced to resettle and vast areas of fertile soil, forests, and ecosystems were forced underwater.

"Feng Jie #5" depicts a demolished landscape, marked by piles of rubble and a dusty haze that obscures the background. Centered in the middle of the work is a man leading his donkey down a dirt road amidst the destruction.

The presence of this single man is a rare exception in Burtynsky's oeuvre as his images are frequently void of actual people. This ambiguous human subject, as well as the additional figures in the background, call into question the profound impact the project had on generations of people, who suffered immeasurable personal and cultural loss as a result.  

This is perhaps one of the most iconic, and melancholy, images from Burtynsky's China series. It was featured on the cover of Canadian Art magazine in 2003. 

Today, Edward Burtynsky's work can be found in over 50 museum collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Guggenheim, The MoMA, and the Tate Modern.

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"Feng Jie #5, Yengtze River, China"

Canada, 2002

Giclée print, on paper with deckled edges

Signed and numbered by the artist

From an edition of 100

12.25"H 15"W (work)

15.25"H 18"W (framed)

Newly framed with museum glass

Very good condition.

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