Carrara Marble Quarries #20, Carrara, Italy, September 1993, printed February 1994
dye coupler print (Ektacolor)
76.5 x 101.2 cm; image: 68.1 x 85.7 cm
Gift of the artist, Toronto, 1994
National Gallery of Canada (no. 37804)
© Edward Burtynsky
view from wooded hillside of mountain and quarry below with sunlight falling on quarry
When Burtynsky first arrived at the Carrara quarry, he was struck by the quality of light that fell across one of the main mountains and the valley below. After several attempts he managed to capture this scene in the photograph titled Carrara Marble Quarries No. 20 . It is a romantic scene with its cloudy, ominous sky and dark mountain looming out of the background. Images of landscapes have always served both political and aesthetic purposes, whether as records of topography or a ready source of the dramatic. In nineteenth-century America, photographers combined these two interests as they accompanied surveyors seeking to map out the unspoiled wilderness that symbolized a young nation. In the 1920s, photographs of loggers posing next to gargantuan trees seemed to suggest an almost infinite capacity for growth, regeneration, and exploitation of the continent's natural resources. Recently, the depiction of landscapes has become inextricably bound to environmental issues. In his series of photographs of "altered" landscapes, Ed Burtynsky has retained the sense of awe associated with the landscapes while at the same time reminding us of their degradation.