Photographer Edward Burtynsky knows a lot about oil and our uncontrollable dependency on it. The 2005 TED prizewinner traveled the world for more than a decade photographing polluted oil fields, crisscrossing highways, manufacturers’ lots overflowing with new cars, and wastelands of discarded tires and junked vehicles. Edward Burtynsky: Oil, a traveling exhibition that documents the effects of oil on our lives was on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC earlier this year, and opens at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Canada in September. Adding to this body of work, Burtynsky journeyed to the Gulf of Mexico in May to capture amazing aerial views of the BP oil spill as it seeped into our lives.
Flaming drilling platforms in oil-blacked seas remind us of potential for further mishaps, while mile long oil slicks recall the damage already done; cargo ships disperse chemicals into the spill, causing the water and oil around them to shift into abstract realms; and marsh island are surrounded by the black gunk, while riptides carry it to distant places. Premiering at Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto, the photographer’s hometown, on September 16, photographs from the Oil Spill series share space at the gallery with Burntynsky’s Pentimento images, which documents the crude process of dismantling massive ships by hand on the beaches of Bangladesh.
Click through below for a gallery of images.