6 September – 9 November 2003
at Centennial Square
Curated by Marnie Fleming
Oakville Galleries is extremely fortunate to receive a generous gift of twenty-three colour photographs from Edward Burtynsky. Landmarks features works from this incredible gift, many depicting Oakville’s oil refinery and the recycling plants in nearby Hamilton, Ontario.
Burtynsky’s exactingly composed colour photographs often address the impact of industry on the natural landscape. Large enough to study from across the room, they are also detailed enough to warrant close-up inspection. In his images of the Oakville oil refinery, we see miles of pipes twisting, turning, and bending in what looks like a labyrinth of metal. The closer we get to the images, the deeper and deeper we travel into the space of the photographs, and the more infinitesimal the details we observe. Like all of Burtynksy’s work, the images of the oil refinery are monumental and theatrical, showing the photographer’s superb command of the large-format camera’s capacity to record colour and detail.
While the images in Landmarks are disarmingly poetic explorations of human interactions with our surroundings, by association they are also about the consequences of living within a global economy. Burtynsky does not attempt to use his work to implicate viewers in the traditional battle of ‘man versus nature,’ but simply suggests that we co-exist with nature. His strength as a photographer is his ability to capture an unorthodox beauty while reminding us how our landscape has changed in the pursuit of progress.