Edward Burtynsky interviewed for The Guardian
From toxic lakes to stripped mountains, he is the great chronicler of eco atrocities – and his roots lie in Ukraine. The photographer talks about Putin, trauma and what will survive
When Edward Burtynsky and I first speak, he’s been organising a print sale for Ukraine: editions of two large-format photographs, which raise nearly C$750,000 (£455,000) in a matter of hours.
It takes me a moment to remember that this is personal, very much so – Burtynsky may have grown up on the shoreline of Lake Ontario but his parents emigrated from Ukraine in the late 1940s. His mother fled starvation under the Soviets, before being forced into a labour camp by the Nazis. Now 97, she has been watching the news obsessively. Burtynsky’s sister has been fielding texts from relatives in and around Kyiv, with an eye to getting them to Canada if necessary.
“It’s kind of surreal,” says the artist, his voice flat. “They’re frightened, they’re hearing bombs all the time. It feels very real, you know?” They’re OK? “Currently.”
- Andrew Dickson
Click here to read the full interview.