Private Collection, Toronto
The photography of Edward Burtynsky (b.1955) is best known for highly saturated explorations of industrial work within the natural landscape. Taken in Rajasthan, India, the Makrana series documents quarries which provided the marble for the Taj Mahal and the Dilwara and Ranakpur temples. Turning the earth inside out one massive block at a time, deep gouges and geometric marks are left on the marble, skillfully creating an inverted architecture of voids and vacancies. Discarded tires and ropes litter the base of the quarry, evidence of their raw fabrication; while a pool of rainwater and thin layers of dust suggest the slow beginnings of a reclamation by nature. The inclusion of workmen - unusual for the artist - puts a human scale on the expansive image. Both organic and intricately patterned, Burtynsky’s quarry photos demonstrate the grandeur and sublimity of these altered landscapes, while testifying to the physical and moral violences inherent in the relationships between man and the environment.