Photographer Ed Burtynsky Turns Climate Change Devastation into a Walkthrough Experience

  • May 25, 2022 15:12

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Edward Burtynsky, Shipbreaking #23, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2000

This ticketed multimedia event is Burtynsky’s most ambitious project to date and debuts in Toronto this June, then travels

Internationally renowned Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky has announced his most ambitious project to date. This ticketed, multidimensional indoor walkthrough experience titled In the Wake of Progress (trailer) envelops visitors in 30-ft screens featuring 40 years of Burtynsky’s global landscapes impacted by the stark reality of the human industry, choreographed to a striking musical score. In the Wake of Progress premieres for the first time live at the ‘ground zero’ of Canada’s consumer activity: Yonge-Dundas Square as part of Luminato Festival Toronto, June 11-12, 2022. Following this brief large-scale outdoor public presentation, In the Wake of Progress expands into a multifaceted experience at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre from June 25, 2022 until July 17, 2022.

In the Wake of Progress unfolds more or less as a chronology, revealing a series of significant personal realizations and iconic moments of production that have marked the arc of my career,” says Edward Burtynsky. “My earliest experiences in youth, paddling a canoe through Algonquin Park and marvelling at the grandeur of the Earth’s perfection were quickly challenged by the polar opposite as an adult and artist confronting the sobering reality of the lasting devastation our civilization has inflicted upon it. My hope is that people around the globe will experience this important exhibition and be prompted to make changes, small and large, to ensure sustainable life on this planet for future generations.”

Edward Burtynsky, Cathedral Grove #2, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, 2017

Burtynsky creates works that continually urge viewers to consider how our insatiable desire for consumption impacts our environment. Within a specially curated gallery that complements the main spectacle, visitors will witness brand new photographs taken in April 2022, alongside more familiar Burtynsky works, all of which provide a meditation on the urgency of the devastating effects of climate change. In addition to the gallery, visitors are invited to engage with two unique augmented reality (AR) experiences which explore the impacts and legacy of the internal combustion engine.

Edward Burtynsky, Highway #2, Intersection 105 & 110, Los Angeles, California, 2003

Burtynsky’s deep engagement with social and environmental issues through the photographic lens is in full effect with In the Wake of Progress. Surrounded by potent imagery of a planet usurped by human industry, the audience is surrounded by a powerful original score composed by Phil Strong and produced by Canadian music legend Bob Ezrin. This emotionally-charged and compelling new work, created from the powerful photographs and films of Burtynsky’s 40-year career, tells the story of humanity’s relentless impact on planet Earth.

In addition to Burtynsky’s traditional artworks and augmented reality experiences, In the Wake of Progress also introduces a space called the Change Station, where visitors are encouraged to become positive agents for change in their own local environments. The Change Station will present simple, tangible and engaging calls to action from select organizations, supported by the artist, all of which are designed to answer one question: what can I do now?

In the Wake of Progress offers an unmissable experience and further establishes the power of  Burtynsky’s art in bringing our attention to today’s most urgent issues around climate change and the future implications of sustainable life on Earth. The experience is accompanied by a new 200-page book of the same name, produced in commemoration of the project, which contains personal reflections by the artist about his ethos and creative process, as well as quotes and extracts of texts by collaborators, curators, art historians, interviewers, and colleagues. The book will be available for sale during the run of the show.

Following the presentation at the Canadian Opera Company Theatre, the exhibition will embark on a global tour beginning in late 2022. Guests can purchase tickets for Toronto HERE.


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