art + design + style + ideas + junk

Wounds in the land: Edward Burtynsky’s photographs of Australian mines

In photography on 10 July 2009 at 11:56 am

minescapes_03Super Pit #4, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Calling this series “landscapes” or “minescapes” is too gentle to encompass what they depict. Edward Burtynsky’s photographs of Western Australian mines are woundscapes, evidence of the lasting and often devastating impact our demand for raw materials has on the land.

minescapes_02Silver Lake Operations #15, Lake Lefroy, Western Australia

Burtynsky’s images, commissioned for the FotoFreo 2008 Festival, show the rarely seen scale and effects of mining. (Take a look, for instance, at this satellite view of the Hunter Valley to see the surface mining not seen by wine-tasting visitors.)

“Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction,” he says. “For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times.”


minescapes_04
Tailings #1, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Taken from the air, the images have an abstract quality that reminds me of Fred Williams impressionism, up to a point. The deep field of focus in Burtynsky’s work often allows the relative human scale of the images to be revealed, with tiny vehicles or houses appearing as mere dots.

Edward Burtynsky’s Australian Minescapes are being exhibited in Sydney at the Australian Centre for Photography, 257 Oxford St, Paddington, from Friday 17 July to Saturday 22 August.

minescapes_01Otter Juan Coronet Mine #1, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Image details, from top:

Edward Burtynsky, Super Pit #4, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia 2007. Limited edition chromogenic colour print, 122cm x 152cm.

Edward Burtynsky, Silver Lake Operations #15, Lake Lefroy, Western Australia 2007. Limited edition chromogenic colour print, 100cm x 125cm.

Edward Burtynsky, Tailings #1, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia 2007. Limited edition chromogenic colour print, 122cm x 152cm.

Edward Burtynsky, Otter Juan Coronet Mine #1, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia 2007. Limited edition chromogenic colour print, 122cm x 152cm.

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