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November 26, 2005
Bao Steel #2,
Copyright © 2005 Edward Burtynsky
The 3.8 million residents of Harbin in northeast China are enduring a fourth day without running water due to a 50 mile-long (80 kilometer) spill of 100 tons of toxic benzene in the Songhua River, the city's primary source of drinking water (and steam heat).
Ding Ning, a resident of the Chinese city of Harbin, filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Jilin Petrochemical Company, a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corporation, in the court of Nangang District of Harbin, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
In an exclusive audio interview for Lens Culture just last week, Canadian photographer Ed Burtynsky talked about his just-published photo book, "China", which raises concerns directly relating to the kind of disaster being experienced right now. Among other insights, Burtysnky predicts that human rights and environmental rights will be forced to improve through individuals taking action through lawsuits and insurance claims (insurance being one of the fastet growing service sectors in this burgeoning capitalist society). The audio interview will be posted soon, so check back. In the meantime, here is his artist's statement from his website (www.edwardburtynsky.com):
EXPLORING THE RESIDUAL LANDSCAPE
"Nature transformed through industry is a predominant theme in my work. I set course to intersect with a contemporary view of the great ages of man; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, silicon, and so on. To make these ideas visible I search for subjects that are rich in detail and scale yet open in their meaning. Recycling yards, mine tailings, quarries and refineries are all places that are outside of our normal experience, yet we partake of their output on a daily basis.
"These images are meant as metaphors to the dilemma of our modern existence; they search for a dialogue between attraction and repulsion, seduction and fear. We are drawn by desire - a chance at good living, yet we are consciously or unconsciously aware that the world is suffering for our success. Our dependence on nature to provide the materials for our consumption and our concern for the health of our planet sets us into an uneasy contradiction. For me, these images function as reflecting pools of our times."
— Edward Burtynsky