on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Quarries – Edward Burtynsky

Book review

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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Burtynsky's Quarries project was the work that initially drew me to him. The sublime beauty of these photographs and their compositional poise made it accessible without knowing anything about issues involved or the artistic reputation of the photographer. This is Burtynsky's goal as far as I can tell though - to engage through beauty and then let the visual facts do the hard moving. This isn't original, but it is effective. In the Quarries book the message isn't overtly political - the quarries sometimes are quite brutal scars but in the grand scheme of things, most are quite benign apart from the third world quarries included where the issues are around bonded labour - slavery in any other name. Unlike the Oil book, the introduction includes essays about the history of the quarries and Burtynsky's work around them - including commentary on the issues such as bonded labour mentioned earlier.

It's the photographs that engage here though - and they are stunning. Burtynsky has an eye for the subtle connection between the abstraction of these massive structures and the sense of scale introduced by the subtle inclusion of man made structures. The compositions often recall Klimt and Braque and echo the shapes of babylonian ziggurats in reverse. For me the images had a strong connection with Paul Wakefield with strong, form compositions and great use of texture.

Just as Burtynsky does, I'm going to let the images speak for themselves. All I can do is recommend this as Burtynsky's most aesthetically pleasing book.

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