Robert Koch Gallery presents China the latest large-scale color photographs by Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. Burtynsky’s epic photographs are arresting portraits of China in transition. Alluring and rich in detail, his images are open to many layers of interpretation. At times, the work functions on surreal and abstract levels while also revealing the complexity of change in contemporary China. A new monograph, Edward Burtynsky: China, will be released by Steidl in the Fall of 2005.
For twenty-five years, Edward Burtynsky’s diverse photographic projects have led him around the world, investigating the complex intersection of industrial growth and environmental concerns. In 2002, Burtynsky began working in China, and focused his attention on the alteration of the country’s landscape. His monumental photographic views of the Three Gorges Dam describe the destruction and topographical shifts in the wake of the controversial construction of the most ambitious hydroelectric engineering project in history.
As rapid economic growth in China has transformed the country, Burtynsky has responded in this new work by broadening his subjects to include vast patterns of orderly uniformed factory employees, urban renewal centers, and housing proects. His ongoing exploration of recycling yards and soaring skeletons of ships revisit earlier investigations. Exceptionally detailed vistas of the Three Gorges Dam also reference the artist’s previous series, Before the Flood. Responding to the strength of Burtynsky’s China photographs, Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times (May 25, 2005) observed, “The power of these photographs derives from an inescapable, understated sense of fragility.”