Kenyon College

Densified Oil Drums #4, Hamilton, Ontario 1997


Edward Burtynsky (Canadian, b. 1955)

Densified Oil Drums #4, Hamilton, Ontario 1997, 1997.

Chromogenic photograph
30 x 40 inches
The Progressive Corporate Art Collection

Edward Burtynsky’s Oil series works to thoroughly document, picture and present the various landscapes occupied and affected by this high profile fuel. Collected through a decade’s worth of photography and travel, in a time when “oil” regularly runs on the front page of our nation’s papers, and the primetime coverage of the evening news, Burtynsky’s photographs thoughtfully capture the many dimensions of this apparently known quantity that remain relatively mysterious.

Chronicling collection to distribution, processing and consumption, the Oil series emulates the vertical integration and international commerce that characterizes the social life of its subject. From the oil fields where it emerges, to the suburban sprawls where SUV’s gorge on it, the 56 color landscapes of Oil travel the world in search of a narrative of international consequence and dire interest. As the world continues to anticipate the limited nature of this all-too-consumed resource, and what will happen when its final reserves have been tapped, Oil makes plain the wide swath of the globe dependent on it, places where its absence will likely have an even greater effect than its presence. The twin themes of dependence and consumption comes to bear in Densified Oil Drums #4, an image of dozens of wasted and rusted oil drums.

Originally exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Oil continues to travel throughout North America, serving as a tool for advocacy and information. A Canadian of Ukranian heritage, Edward Burtynsky studied at Ryerson University and Niagara College. He is a recipient of the prestigious Officer of the Order of Canada.

-Grant Johnson ’11
Former Exhibitions and Programs Coordinator


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