Edward Burtynsky’s OIL series reopens The Photographers’ Gallery

Shipbreaking #13, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2000 © Edward Burtynsky, Courtesy Nicholas Metivier, Toronto/ Flowers, London

The Photographers’ Gallery reopened this weekend with a major solo exhibition of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky’s work. OIL represents a ten year survey of the oil industry, with the London space showing over thirty works from the series.

You can see a selection from OIL here to get a flavour for the show. They reminded me of the behind-the-scenes photography series that crop up from time to time featuring space stations and nuclear power plants – that same eerie industrial serenity.

It’s particularly interesting seeing these highly artificial structures and environments being treated the same way as vast natural landscapes. There’s a calm that’s not something I generally associate with the oil industry, especially as given the implications that oil availability has on major conflicts, the fact that the effects of the BP Gulf of Mexico leak are still very much with us and that we still don’t seem to be able to have a rational global discussion about our future energy requirements.

SOCAR Oil Fields #6, Baku, Azerbaijan 2006 © Edward Burtynsky, Courtesy Nicholas Metivier, Toronto/ Flowers, London

Oil Refineries #22, St. John, New Brunswick, Canada 1999 © Edward Burtynsky, Courtesy Nicholas Metivier Toronto/ Flowers London

Oxford Tire Pile, #4, Westley, California, USA 1999 © Edward Burtynsky, Courtesy Nicholas Metivier, Toronto/ Flowers, London

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