Born in St Catharines, Canada, in 1955 / Lives and works in Toronto, Canada
Edward Burtynsky takes to the sky to focus attention on perhaps our most essential resource: water. His aerial photographs of areas in Texas, Mexico, and California expose the havoc our abuse of waterways wreaks, while his film Watermark delineates the relationship we have with water across the continents. The footage and photographs reveal our immense need for water, how our use of it transforms the land, and what its scarcity would mean for the future. The geometric shapes of Burtynsky’s Pivot Irrigation series, which recall El Lissitzky’s Constructivist paintings, particularly spotlight how the ways we employ water have reshaped the land, and hint at trouble ahead. The Texas Panhandle depends upon the Ogallala Aquifer for its water, which farming is depleting faster than rainfall can replenish it. If the current rate of use continues, farming will peak by 2040 due to water depletion. Burtynsky’s photographs of the Texas Panhandle, together with his other images, caution us against engineering our own demise.
Portrait photo by Birgit Kleber