Anthropocene at The Art Gallery of Ontario

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Makoko #2, Lagos, Nigeria, 2015 by Edward Burtynsky
Makoko #2, Lagos, Nigeria, 2015 by Edward Burtynsky

Torontonicity was invited to attend the media preview of Anthropocene, the Art Gallery of Ontario’s new exhibit featuring works from world renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. The exhibit illustrates how humans have impacted their environment. The artists traveled all over the world including Kenya, Chile, California, Spain and Siberia to produce this exhibit – the artists were quick to point out that the show has been carbon offset. You’ll see Burtynsky’s stunning photographic images, as well as Baichwal and de Pencier’s film clips. Many of the images and structures can be viewed in AR (Augmented Reality) by downloading the free app, AVARA.

AGO Curator of Photography Sophie Hackett, Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier at media preview of Anthropocene at Art Gallery of Ontario.
AGO Curator of Photography Sophie Hackett, Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier at media preview of Anthropocene at Art Gallery of Ontario.

Burtynsky, Baichwal and de Pencier were present at the media preview and spoke to the AGO’s Curator of Photography Sophie Hackett about the challenges of producing this work. These challenges included having to rent helicopters and drones to capture some of the aerial footage of the Carrara marble quarries in Italy, the Texas oil refineries, and the floating village in Nigeria.

In the course of filming, the trio were even incarcerated in a Syberian jail. In order to photograph Toronto’s St. Clair Reservoir, which holds 234 million litres of fresh drinking water, the trio had to be harnessed and lowered onto pulleys.

A still from video of the St. Clair Reservoir, Toronto, Canada, 2018 by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier at Anthropocene at The Art Gallery of Ontario
A still from video of the St. Clair Reservoir, Toronto, Canada, 2018 by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier at Anthropocene

The show tries to capture iconic images to relay the message about human destruction of our planet and species extinction. For example, a series of photos and video show the burning of ivory tusks. The burning took place in order to protest the illegal poaching of elephants in Nigeria?

One extraordinary video shows a train traveling through the longest tunnel in the world, located in Switzerland. The 57 kilometre tunnel, which opened in 2016, provides a high speed rail under the Swiss Alps. Camera was attached to the front of the train in order to capture this spectacular video.

Makoko #2, Lagos, Nigeria, 2015 by Edward Burtynsky
Makoko #2, Lagos, Nigeria, 2015 by Edward Burtynsky

Although many of the images in this exhibit arrested my attention, I was particularly captivated by Burtynsky’s photo of the Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria. This image of the floating village shows the impoverished conditions of the inhabitants. Houses are constructed on stilts placed in Lagos Lagoon. Examining the photo closely, you can see villagers doing laundry or paddling in canoes across the lagoon.

Anthropocene at The Art Gallery of Ontario opens on September 28, 2018. This is a ticketed event, which is not included with general admission. Reserve your time and date online.

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