This fall the Toronto-based landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky introduced a new series of photographs from China. In particular, his 'Manufacturing' series, taken in factories throughout China's southern province of Guangdong, mark a departure from his previous work, characterized by technically skilled but often romanticized depictions of industrial landscapes. His earlier 'Shipbreaking' series, for example, documents the incredible dismantling of enormous steel ships in Chittagong, Bangladesh as a purely formal exercise with little or no reference to the laborers or the life-threatening conditions in which they work.
Most of Burtynsky's work in China continues in this vein, but his manufacturing series is arresting - for once, his formal interests in scale intersect with the organization of human labor. While statistics on the growth of China's manufacturing sector are by now well rehearsed, Burtynsky's photographs attest both to the immediacy of visual information, and more importantly, to the social restructuring effecting this growth.Posted by cdierks at February 4, 2006 9:51 PM