New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) presents Edward Burtynsky: Water

New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) presents Edward Burtynsky: Water through January 19, 2014, the world premiere of the latest body of work by internationally renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky. This second initiative of the ongoing NOMA at the CAC programming partnership includes over 60 large-scale color photographs that form a global portrait of humanity’s relationship to water.

Edward Burtynsky xiaolangdi dam #1, 2011 yellow river, henan province, china chromogenic print image edward burtynsky/nicholas metivier gallery

Edward Burtynsky xiaolangdi dam #1, 2011
yellow river, henan province, china
chromogenic print
image edward burtynsky/nicholas metivier gallery


Burtynsky’s images address several facets of the world’s vital resource, exploring the source, collection, control, displacement, and depletion of water. The exhibition opened on October 5, 2013 and runs through January 19, 2014.

Edward Burtynsky (b. 1955; St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada) has long been recognized for his ability to combine vast and serious subject matter with a rigorous, formal approach to picture making. The results are images that are part abstraction, part architecture, and part raw data. In producing Water, Burtynsky has worked across the globe—from the Gulf of Mexico to the shores of the Ganges—weaving together an ambitious representation of water’s increasingly fragmented lifecycle.

“The CAC is thrilled to be able to premiere an exhibition of this scale and quality through our partnership with NOMA,” said Neil Barclay, Executive Director of the Contemporary Arts Center. “Burtynsky’s work has long served as a commentary on the relationship between art and environment, and I believe the subject of these works will be of keen interest to anyone who has experienced life in New Orleans over the past decade.”

“Five years in the making, Water is at once Burtynsky’s most detailed and expansive project to date, with images of the 2010 Gulf oil spill, step wells in India, dam construction in China, aquaculture, farming, and pivot irrigation systems,” said Susan M. Taylor, Director of the New Orleans Museum of Art. In addition, Water includes some of the first pure landscapes that Burtynsky has made since the early 1980s. These archaic, almost primordial looking images of British Columbia place the structures of water control in a historical context—tracing the story of water from the ancient to the modern, and back again.

While the story of water is certainly an ecological one, Burtynsky is more interested in presenting the facts on the ground than in declaring society’s motives good or bad. In focusing on all the facets of people’s relationship with water, including ritual and leisure, Burtynsky offers evidence without an argument.

“Burtynsky’s work functions as an open ended question about humanity’s past, present, and future,” said Russell Lord, Freeman Family Curator of Photographs at the New Orleans Museum of Art. “The big question is: do these pictures represent the achievement of humanity or one of its greatest faults, or both? Each visitor might find a different answer in this exhibition, depending upon what they bring to it.”

The exhibition, organized by Russell Lord, is accompanied by a catalogue published by Steidl with over 100 color plates from Burtynsky’s water series. It includes essays by Lord and Wade Davis, renowned anthropologist and Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society.

New Orleans Museum of Art
1 Collins Diboll Circle
New Orleans, LA 70124
T 504 658 4100

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