The London’s Photographers Gallery on Ramillies Street, just few minutes away from Oxford Circus Station, has reopened after a full facelift. The venue is currently hosting Burtynsky: OIL, an exhibition by the Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. His travels across the world, witnessed by his photographs, aim to bring out the role of oil on all our lives, revealing the rarely seen mechanics of extraction, refinement and transportation.
One of the most contested resources in human history, Oil is seen by Burtynsky as noticeable for its indisputable cumulative power. As bees on honey, we use it and suck it while pretending we’re aware of oil’s implacable effects on the environment.
The total of 100 prints depicts wide lands and some of the artworks are clearly suggesting that we as human beings, lost the control over the beast we’ve created to make the most of the black golden liquid engine.
Persons present in the photographs are hidden behind the scenes in Burtynsky’s perspective, and the exhibition leads the viewer to increase its unconvinced awareness of oil’s coming to an end.
The transparency of details in the aerial views of oil fields immortalized by the photographer is the mirror of a “pure” and clear reality.
An insistent repetition of elements such as abandoned pneumatics and massive oil-tankers, aims to expose to the viewer the attitude of humans to persevere.
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“In 1997 I had what I refer to as my oil epiphany. It occurred to me that the vast, human-altered landscapes that I pursued and photographed for over twenty years were only made possible by the discovery of oil and the mechanical advantage of the internal combustion engine…These images can be seen as notations by one artist contemplating the world as it is made possible through this vital energy resource and the cumulative effects of industrial evolution.”