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In The Wake of Progress August 9, 2021

Q+A with Renowned Photographer Edward Burtynsky

The public world premiere of renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky’s In the Wake of Progress takes over the immense digital screens surrounding Yonge-Dundas Square June 11 -12, in a fully choreographed blend of photographs and film, with a staggering musical score.

Against the backdrop of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Edward Burtynsky’s In the Wake of Progress challenges us to have an important conversation about our legacy and the future implications of sustainable life on Earth.

In the Wake of Progress Trailer

Tell us a bit about the project you’re developing for Luminato?

This piece, which I’ve now spent the last two years putting together, is the most significant and extensive retrospective of my work ever created. It encompasses all of the themes that I have focused on throughout my 40+ year career and presents them in what I hope is a powerful new way to experience my work.

The plan is to display this work as a complete visual takeover at a landmark in Toronto. What inspired you to present your life’s work on such an epic scale?

I’ve been interested in doing more public artworks for a long time — seven years ago I had the privilege of working on the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa — and this forthcoming project gives me the opportunity to do something site-specific in one of Canada’s most prominent public squares that will then be broadcast to international audiences. It’s a really exciting way to evolve the themes I’ve been developing for the past 40 years, made even more powerful when you think of how many people can then tune in and engage with the work in this new format.

What do you hope people will take away after experiencing your new project?

My initial hope was that by the time this would be presented, the crisis of the pandemic would be on the wane. That remains to be seen, but what is certain is that there is now a light at the end of the tunnel as this threat recedes we can refocus, with increased urgency, on the ever-growing climate crisis. I’m hoping that the work encourages people to recognize that climate change is one of the greatest existential threats to all life on this planet, and this is the decade to make a difference. That the time to act is now.

How do you think Luminato contributes to the arts and culture sector in Canada?

As an important international arts festival, Luminato serves to bring attention to both Canadian and international talents in multiple fields of artistic practice — music, theatre, and visual arts. Toronto is known as the city of festivals and Luminato is certainly a bright light on the cultural scene and brings great richness to our city.

Get an inside look In the Wake of Progress

Learn More About Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky is regarded as one of the world’s most accomplished contemporary photographers. His remarkable photographic depictions of global industrial landscapes are included in the collections of over 60 major museums around the world, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, the Tate Modern in London, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California.

Major (touring) exhibitions include Anthropocene (2018), Water (2013) organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art & Contemporary Art Center, Louisiana; Oil (2009) at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.; China (2005 five-year tour); and Manufactured Landscapes (2003), National Gallery of Canada.