Beautiful disaster

Edward Burtynsky at Tufts, Kara Walker at the Addison, and ‘Works from the Permanent Collection’ at the Rose
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  January 17, 2007

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Edward Burtynsky, Manufacturing #17, Deda Chicken Processing Plant, Dehui City, Jilin Province, China, 2005

What we think of as “progress” — urban development, industrialization — has been proceeding at a rapid rate in China over the past decade, with significant environmental and human consequences. Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky has traveled from the southern province of Guangdong, with its virtually unbroken landscape of factories and workers’ dormitories, to the Yangtze River, site of the world’s largest and most powerful hydroelectric dam, and beyond, taking photographs that are remarkable both for their beauty and for their frightening commentary on the current course of global human events. Opening at Tufts University Art Gallery January 19, “EDWARD BURTYNSKY: THE CHINA SERIES” presents 20 large-scale photographs of recent development in China. On his Web site, Burtynsky writes: “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.”

Also opening January 19 at Tufts: “ALTERED STATES: VIEWS OF TRANSITION IN RECENT PHOTOGRAPHY,” work by six artists examining the environmental effects of industry and development worldwide. And “HERO — THIS IS WE” and “JUN YANG AND SOLDIER WOODS,” two videos by artist Jun Yang, further explore questions of cultural and personal identity, and of globalization.

Going back to the America of the 1860s, artist Kara Walker crafts a complex dialogue between the past and the present using her signature black silhouette images in “KARA WALKER: HARPER’S PICTORIAL HISTORY OF THE CIVIL WAR (ANNOTATED)”; it’s at the Addison Gallery of American Art, with an opening reception January 26. And opening at the Addison on January 27 is “MODELS AS MUSE,” new work by four contemporary artists invited to use the museum’s famed model-ship collection for inspiration.

Just as 90 percent of any given iceberg is said to lurk unseen beneath the sea’s surface, so a large part of an art museum’s permanent collection usually languishes in storage. “ROSE ART: WORKS FROM THE PERMANENT COLLECTION,” and “PAPER TRAIL: ARTISTS EXPLORE UNSEEN WORKS ON PAPER FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE ROSE ART MUSEUM,” both opening at Brandeis’s Rose Art Museum January 25, offer opportunities to revisit, or discover for the first time, works from the museum’s fine modern and contemporary collections.

“Edward Burtynsky: The China Series,” “Altered states,” and “Jun yang” at Tufts University Art Gallery, 40R Talbot Ave, Medford | January 19–April 1 | 617.627.3518 | “Kara walker” and “Models as muse” at Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover | through April 15 (Walker) & January 27–March 18 (“Models”) | 978.749.4015 | “Rose art” and “paper trail” at Rose Art Museum, 415 South St, Waltham | January 25–April 1 | 781.736.3434

On the Web
Tufts Univeristy Art Gallery: www.ase.tufts.edu/gallery
Addison Gallery of American Art: www.addisongallery.org
Rose Art Museum: www.brandeis.edu/rose

Related: Return to the edge of the world, It’s the end of the world, and isn’t it lovely, Walk on by, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Education, Tufts University, Higher Education,  More more >
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