Review – Anthropocene: The Human Epoch

By Gideon Forman | Alternatives Journal

To watch Anthropocene is to be saddened and overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed by our remaking of the Earth’s surface through extractive industries; by the destruction of living creatures on land and at sea; and by the injury inflicted on humans, especially the poor, as they participate in these processes.

Earlier societies harnessed and harmed nature as well. But for Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, “What is different today is the speed and scale of human taking,” he says, “and that the Earth has never experienced this kind of cumulative impact.”

Joined by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier, Burtynsky travelled to 20 countries, including Italy, Russia, Nigeria and Kenya to document changes well underway. Spoken word is at a minimum. Rather, what speaks here is machinery and landscape.

We witness construction workers remove massive chunks of marble from a quarry in Carrara. The operation is set to a soundtrack of Italian opera and displays that art form’s intensity and drama. When the house-sized block is finally pried from the hillside and snapped off, we feel theatrical climax. Earth’s dismantling is a performance on a grand scale.

Read the full review here.