Canadian, born 1955
Edward Burtynsky traveled to Utah, Montana, Ontario, and Western Australia to create a series on mines in the early 1980s. The Kennecott Copper Mine is the largest man-made excavation site in the world, located just thirty miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Established in 1906, it produces 25% of the copper in the United States today.
When asked about the series, the internationally renowned photographer responded: “If the human experience can be considered a manifestation of dreams, and desires, mines can be thought of as the source for the raw material of that experience. On one level of understanding, that mineral-rich ore is manufactured into the objects of our collective desire: the automobiles we drive, televisions we watch, jets that fly us around the globe, houses that provide us with shelter and comfort, and an endless stream of gadgets and goods. If gold, silver and diamonds are the greatest valuables we bestow upon each other, to honour great citizens and profess our love, then are not the great voids we leave in that residual landscape a lasting testament to these ambitions? The imagery I derive from these landscapes therefore becomes symbolic. What this civilization leaves in the wake of its progress may be the opened and empty earth, but in performing these incursions we also participate in the unwitting creation of gigantic monuments to our way of life.”