Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Edward Burtynsky shows pollution can be beautiful

I think it's fair to say that most artists are pretty green in their worldview, and this attitude often informs their art. Photographers, for example, are certainly very fond of showing the spectacular beauty of nature with loving landscapes, seascapes and the like. There aren't that many who would portray human caused pollution in a similar way.

But there's at least one I know of. He's a Canadian called Edward Burtynsky and he's got an exhibition running that has many strangely beautiful photos of the BP oil spill. When asked about what he was trying to achieve with them he said:

All my photos try to carry the same ingredients. First, it's an interesting image to look at, what people call aesthetics or visually compelling composition. But once the viewer is in there and looking around, the subject itself should be more challenging. What is going on? In all my work I toggle between attraction and repulsion, working towards irreconcilable emotions. The photographs become more interesting then and enters the realm of art in a more compelling way.

It's refreshing to know that an artist is trying to provoke a more ambivalent response to his nature-themed work, particularly when the dominant attitude in the arts world is so simplistically deep green and preachy.

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