Artwork Details

Edward Burtynsky
Shipbreaking #9, Chittagong, Bangladesh
Color dye coupler prints
40 x 50 inches
Not on view
Accession Number
Museum Purchase, Jack H. Miller
Image Copyright
© Edward Burtynsky

About the Artwork

Edward Burtynsky is known for his depictions of global industrial landscapes. Nature transformed through industry is a major theme in his work. Combining the raw elements of mining, quarrying, manufacturing, shipping, oil production and recycling, he creates unexpected visions that find beauty and humanity in the most unlikely places.

Shipbreaking #9 presents a broad landscape that is not easily recognizable. A closer observation reveals a small crew arduously dismantling the hull of a massive rusted ship. After the devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska in 1989, insurance companies refused to cover single-hulled tankers and freighters; these ships were subsequently decommissioned. Many of them were taken to Bangladesh, where they were torn down by manual labor to be recycled into scrap metal and parts. This demolition process transformed the natural seashore into an unearthly scene — a ship graveyard. The joined photographs of Shipbreaking — with their large scale, enigmatic subject, and unusual grays and rust colors — assert a strong physical presence. Burtynsky asks the viewer to consider an intersection of nature and industry that results in a new reality — both fascinating and disturbing.