AN AUDAIN ART MU­SEUM SPE­CIAL EX­HI­BI­TION

Ed­ward Bur­tyn­sky: The Scarred Earth

Whistler Traveller Magazine - - TRAVELLER I CONTENT - STORY BY RE­BECCA WOOD BAR­RETT

This sum­mer, scarred land­scapes are com­ing to Whistler. From June 10 to Oct. 16, the Audain Art Mu­seum will fea­ture a thought-pro­vok­ing spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tion, Ed­ward Bur­tyn­sky: The Scarred Earth. One of Canada’s most re­spected pho­tog­ra­phers, Bur­tyn­sky cre­ates large-scale pho­to­graphs that show the ef­fects of hu­man ac­tiv­ity on the nat­u­ral world. In par­tic­u­lar, his aerial pho­to­graphs of in­dus­try re­flect the im­pact hu­mankind is hav­ing on the sur­face of the planet.

Bur­tyn­sky’s aes­thetic and in­ter­est in the trans­for­ma­tion of na­ture by man­u­fac­tur­ing orig­i­nates from his days work­ing in the auto and min­ing in­dus­tries, when he spent time in as­sem­bly, frame and pro­duc­tion plants. Since many of his pho­to­graphs de­pict land­scapes that are mas­sive in size, he tries to in­clude an object, or fig­ure, in the im­age to in­di­cate scale. When view­ers lo­cate a rec­og­niz­able fig­ure in the pho­tos, it’s a shock as the mind cal­cu­lates the true size of the area.

“Many of th­ese works are quite large, usu­ally a min­i­mum of one me­tre high and two me­tres wide,” says Dar­rin Martens, the Gail and Stephen A. Jaris­lowsky chief cu­ra­tor of the mu­seum. “When you’re look­ing at th­ese works you be­come in some ways very im­mersed in the sit­u­a­tion. You are part of that ex­pe­ri­ence of wit­ness­ing.”

It is im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore the ironies and com­plex­i­ties of view­ing a mas­sive Bur­tyn­sky pho­to­graph. Those bear­ing wit­ness to the re­mark­able im­ages can’t es­cape the fact that most of us trav­elled up the Sea to Sky High­way to Whistler in a ve­hi­cle. Most of us carry a cell phone in our pock­ets. Even the pho­to­graphs are made pos­si­ble by us­ing air­craft, fuel, and pho­to­graphic equip­ment, which were at one point el­e­ments ex­tracted from the earth. Un­set­tling con­tra­dic­tions ex­ist be­tween the hu­man de­sire for ma­te­ri­als to have a good life and the con­se­quences of resource ex­trac­tion on the nat­u­ral world. In­cluded in the ex­hi­bi­tion are sev­eral im­ages rel­e­vant to the West Coast, in­clud­ing: a se­ries of pho­to­graphs taken around Fort McMur­ray, Alta., also known as Canada’s “tar sands”; the Wes­tar Coal Mine of Crow’s Nest Pass, B.C.; and the open-pit High­land Val­ley Cop­per mine near Lo­gan Lake, B.C. Although th­ese works may be of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to the re­gional vis­i­tor, they are also rel­e­vant in a global con­text, and are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of in­dus­try around the world.

To com­ple­ment the ex­hi­bi­tion, two doc­u­men­tary films, Water­mark and Man­u­fac­tured Land­scapes, will be screen­ing con­tin­u­ally in a video room at the gallery. Through the films, guests will have an op­por­tu­nity to hear Bur­tyn­sky talk about his work.

While you’re vis­it­ing the Audain, be sure to al­low enough time to visit the phe­nom­e­nal per­ma­nent col­lec­tion. The mu­seum show­cases a his­tory of art from coastal Bri­tish Columbia, with art­works span­ning pre-Euro­pean con­tact to the con­tem­po­rary. Of note are more than 24 Emily Carr paint­ings, and art­works from 12 dif­fer­ent First Na­tions groups, from the Lower Main­land to Alaska.

“For peo­ple who hap­pen to be in the Vil­lage for a time, we also have a whole se­ries of ways we en­gage our vis­i­tors,” says Suzanne Green­ing, the mu­seum’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. There are seven do­cent-led tours per week, and Kids Kon­nect Tours de­signed to en­gage youth.

In the fall, re­turn to the Audain Art Mu­seum to ex­pe­ri­ence Sublime Ne­go­ti­a­tions: The Cana­dian Alpine Ex­pe­ri­ence (1867-2017), on dis­play from Nov. 11, 2017 to Feb. 12, 2018, to cel­e­brate Canada’s sesqui­cen­ten­nial year. It will fea­ture up­wards of 150 art­works cre­ated over the past 150 years from var­i­ous re­gions around Canada.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the Audain Art Mu­seum’s spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tions and events visit au­dainart­mu­seum.com.

PHOTO JOERN ROHDE

PHO­TOS © ED­WARD BUR­TYN­SKY, COUR­TESY METIVIER GALLERY, TORONTO / PAUL KUHN GALLERY, CAL­GARY

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