Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky is having a London moment. Not only are his familiar works on the oil crisis on view but he is also exhibiting a new series examining the impact of long-term farming in Monegros, Spain.
These photographs are looking at the tradition of dryland farming carried out over many generations in the north-eastern part of Spain. It's an agricultural region where the land is semi-arid, sparsely populated and prone to both droughts and high winds. The land is made up of sedimentary rock, gypsum, and clay-rich soil. The photographs show the impact of these conditions, as well as man's expanding foot print.
Burtynsky is shooting the photos from a helicopter, two thousand feet up: so high that there are almost no details to be identified. The topography looks like an abstract painting.
Despite a scarcity of water, generations of farmers have continued to farm, so the photos are a contrast between nature's untamed forces and man's attempts to harness it. The cracks and crevices form writhing lines with deep earthy tones.
I am always interested in how humans shape the landscape. All my work is really about the pristine landscape being pushed back as a result of the expanding human footprint. And I kept thinking of farming as one of the largest terraforming events that humans have exercised on the planet.