Edward Burtynsky Comments on Winning the Sony World Photography Awards’ 2022 Outstanding Contribution to Photography

Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Edward Burtynsky Comments on Winning the Sony World Photography Awards’ 2022 Outstanding Contribution to Photography

For more than 40 years, I have been examining the ways in which human activity influences the Earth and its systems. My goal has been to capture dynamism in each image; allowing the viewer to get up close, understand the scale of our impacts, and form their own intimate awareness.

For more than 40 years, I have been examining the ways in which human activity influences the Earth and its systems. My goal has been to capture dynamism in each image; allowing the viewer to get up close, understand the scale of our impacts, and form their own intimate awareness.

This work has given me the privilege to see the world, understand the problems we are facing, and bear witness to it all with my camera. I often refer to the scenes of resource extraction and industrial landscapes that I’ve photographed as “business as usual.” They are the processes by which we, as a modern society, use the Earth to meet our ever-evolving needs. The different photographs in this exhibition, best experienced as one body of work, represent a lament for the loss of nature resulting from those methods.

The Outstanding Contribution to Photography recognizes an artist who has made a significant impact on the photographic medium. I am very honoured to receive this award, and humbled to see my name listed amongst previous honorees like Gerhard Steidl, Nadav Kander, William Eggleston and so many others. Today however, as a Canadian-Ukrainian, I would like to share this award with the artists of Ukraine, many of whom are bravely documenting the desecration of both their people and lands.

Photography embodies truth in a way that transcends language, culture, borders, and time. In the face of fake news and Putin’s vicious disinformation campaign, Ukrainian photographers are using this moment to show the world the truth. Their dedication to their art, even as their towns are surrounded by invading Russian forces bringing terror to their doorsteps, is a bravery that humbles me.

Photography is about light conquering darkness. And as we speak, Ukrainian photographers are conquering an unimaginable form of darkness. I can think of no more outstanding contribution to photography than that.

Thank you. Slava Ukraini.

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Roman Pyatkovka, “VELVET SADNESS”, (1996), photograph glued on velvet passe-partout (paper).

Roman Pyatkovka, “VELVET SADNESS”, (1996), photograph glued on velvet passe-partout (paper).

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