In The Wake of Progress August 9, 2021

Q+A with Renowned Photographer Edward Burtynsky

On October 16, Luminato Festival Toronto will unveil Encountering Edward Burtynsky’s In the Wake of Progress: A Film by Bokeh Collective, a new digital experience from Edward Burtynsky. Presented on the screens of Yonge-Dundas Square and streamed directly to audiences, this fully choreographed blend of Burtynsky’s photographs and film tells the epic tale of humanity’s impact on the planet. Encountering In the Wake of Progress marks an urgent call to action, and a quest for hope, as we face the greatest existential threat of our time: the climate crisis.

Encountering In the Wake of Progress Trailer

Get free tickets to the premiere on October 16, featuring new and never-before-seen film and photography from Burtynsky’s 40 year career bearing witness to the incursions of human industry into the natural world. In the meantime, he has shared insights into the development of this piece. Read on to learn more.

Tell us a bit about the project you’re developing for Luminato’s 2021 Festival?

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 art works 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, 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.

Want to hear more from Edward Burtynsky himself? Register for the premiere of Encountering Edward Burtynsky’s In the Wake of Progress to receive an exclusive behind-the-scenes video interview with Burtynsky and Luminato’s Artistic Director, Naomi Campbell.


Get an inside look at Encountering In the Wake of Progress

  • Q+A with Renowned Photographer Edward Burtynsky
    On October 16, Luminato Festival Toronto will unveil Encountering Edward Burtynsky’s In the Wake of Progress: A Film by Bokeh Collective, a new digital experience from Edward Burtynsky. Presented on the screens of Yonge-Dundas Square and streamed directly to audiences, this fully choreographed blend of Burtynsky’s photographs and film tells the epic tale of humanity’s…
  • Q+A with Composer Phil Strong
    On October 16, 2021, Luminato Festival Toronto will unveil Encountering Edward Burtynsky’s In the Wake of Progress: A Film by Bokeh Collective – a fully choreographed blend of photographs and film, including new and never-before-seen works, by world-renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. This new 22-minute piece includes an original soundtrack by composer and sound designer Phil Strong, featuring award-winning musical artist…
  • Q+A with Legendary Producer Bob Ezrin
    On October 16, 2021, Luminato Festival Toronto will unveil Encountering Edward Burtynsky’s In the Wake of Progress: A Film by Bokeh Collective – a fully choreographed blend of photographs and film, including new and never-before-seen works, by world-renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. This new 22-minute piece, co-produced by Canadian music legend Bob Ezrin, presents the powerful imagery of global landscapes devastated by human…
  • Q+A with Artist, Musician, Storyteller iskwē
    On October 16, 2021, Luminato Festival Toronto will unveil Encountering Edward Burtynsky’s In the Wake of Progress: A Film by Bokeh Collective – a fully choreographed blend of photographs and film, including new and never-before-seen works, by world-renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. Featuring an original soundtrack that includes stunning vocals from award-winning musical artist iskwē, In the Wake of Progress presents the…
  • Encountering In the Wake of Progress
    Against the backdrop of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Encountering Edward Burtynsky’s In the Wake of Progress is an urgent call to action as we face the greatest existential threat of our time: climate change.  On October 16, 2021, Luminato Festival Toronto will unveil Encountering Edward Burtynsky’s In the Wake of Progress: A Film by Bokeh Collective – a fully choreographed…
  • Behind Edward Burtynsky’s Photographs
    Toronto photographer Edward Burtynsky captures the parts of our lives that we often take for granted. Whether it’s an untouched landscape in a corner of the Earth we’ve never seen, or refineries and factories that are the backbone of consumerism, Burtynsky’s photography casts a light on our relationship with nature and industrialization. The world is…

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.