Barbra Brady

Manufactured Landscapes, Edward Bertynski's art

In Art, This Evening's Movie on August 25, 2009 at 5:47 pm

How utterly beautiful devastated landscapes can be. I illustrated as much in two art exhibitions I curated on the theme of water, one in Montana where mining was the major “culprit,” the other in Seattle. T’was dams killed the beauty there.

Jennifer Balchwal’s exquisite documentary Manufactured Landscapes so illustrates the work of Canadian large format photographer Edward Bertynski. Balchwal weaves together his stills with glimpses of industrial workers, primarily Chinese, whose daily work is to produce the stuff of the daily lives of those of us in the more “developed” nations. Here, the repercussions of the “wonder” of Three Gorges Dam is brought to bare.

This gorgeous and provocative film arrests. The beauty of its formalism–composition, color, line, and form– draws the attention of the eye, seducing, while the underlying (for it is secondary in the subtle hands of Bertynski, whose photographs bring to mind the work of Andreas Gursky) and hollowing narrative appear as an aftertaste.

As riveting as it is sobering. Dare to experience Manufactured Landscapes. It is Uncontrollable Beauty (a nod to the anthology Uncontrollable Beauty: Toward a New Aesthetics.)

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