By Christine Stoesser
Ryerson graduate Edward Burtynsky opened a showing of his photography at the Art Gallery of Ontario Monday night after the Ryerson Board of Governors meeting. Burtynsky’s exhibit, entitled Manufactured Landscapes, features approximately 60 photographs of man-made landscapes including mines, oil refineries, and garbage dumps. Burtynsky gave a group of fellow Ryerson alumni a tour around his exhibit, explaining the meaning behind his photographs and pointing out potential threats of man-made scenery.
“We’re losing a pristine environment for a very industrialized environment,” he said.
Burtynsky’s photographs emphasize the effect of industrialization over the world, but at the same time, the beauty of the images is striking. In Skihist Provincial Park, British Columbia, Burtynsky took a photograph of a rail road at the bottom of an enormous mountain. In Westley, California, he managed to turn a pile of tires into an undeniably beautiful sight. Recently, Burtynsky has been focusing on the Three Gorges Dam, a massive water reservoir being constructed along the Yangtze River in China. These photographs are also included in Burtynsky’s exhibit.
Following the tour and explanation of his works, a reception was held in the atrium of the AGO. Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse gave a speech before Burtynsky took to the podium. Burtynsky praised Ryerson University throughout his speech, and said his professors had “opened [him] up to really looking at things, and to photographing things in an interesting way.”
He also credited much of his success to his degree in photographic arts obtained from Ryerson. This, combined with what he calls “listening to the subtle voice of intuition,” has helped him, he said. Burtynsky realizes being a student is hard work, and mentioned that covering the cost of tuition is no simple task. He went to school during the day, and worked at night in order to obtain his degree.
To current image arts students at Ryerson, Burtynsky said, “never be afraid to follow your intuition. Even through your own life story, you can arrive at original subject matter.”
Manufactured Landscapes: The photographs of Edward Burtynsky, is running at the AGO on selected dates until Feb. 6.