by Rebecca Bates | Architectural Digest
Documenting the collision of nature and industry, Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky captures how, for better or worse, human-made structures mediate hostile landscapes and modify preexisting ecosystems. Now at the New Orleans Museum of Art and Contemporary Art Center, an exhibition of Burtynsky photographs examines the colossal toll on the environment resulting from our increasing water usage. In these images, irrigation systems carve grids and circles into rugged terrain, trash fills the bottom of a stepwell, and an astounding amount of water jets from a massive dam.
However, more than simply presenting evidence of the world's distressed relationship with its water supply, Burtynsky's images also pose questions about how the distribution of our most vital resource is privileged across social classes. Navajo Reservation/Suburb, Phoenix, Arizona, USA shows a clear demarcation in consumption, a thin strip of road separating indulgent urban growth from acres of Native American-designated desert.
Through January 19 at New Orleans Museum of Art and the Contemporary Art Center; noma.org and cacno.org