Combining photography, cinema, augmented reality and scientific research, the Anthropocene project studies the indelible impact of man on the planet during the current geological era. It is the work of three world-renowned artists: photographer Edward Burtynsky, filmmakers and producers Nicholas de Pencier and Jennifer Baichwal, in collaboration with a team of researchers and scientists. The exhibition was first hosted by the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, then by the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, before opening at the Manifattura di Art, Sperimentazione e Tecnologia (MAST) in Bologna, Italy.
The exhibition’s huge photographs target around twenty countries and highlight clear-cut forests for palm oil production (Malaysia), dumps and plastic landfills (Dandora, Kenya)or the unlimited exploitation of coal mines using gigantic machines (the Bagger 293 excavator in Germany).
The exhibition also includes augmented reality installations. Recreated in three dimensions on a tablet, visitors can find the white rhino of Kenya, which was the last male of its kind. The team captured these images in March 2016, two years before the rhino died. There are only two females left. An 88-minute documentary is proposed at the end of the exhibition. It details the phenomena of industrialization, extraction of natural resources, erosion, extinction of animal species and massive pollution, taking up the places targeted by the exhibition. The film opens and closes with a ceremony of destruction by fire of an elephant defense stock amassed in Kenya in 2016, symbolizing the fight against poaching and the black market of ivory.
The Anthropocene project has an unusual effect when an exhibition is discovered: feeling hypnotized and guilty while watching a work of art. Indeed, the images are strong, fascinating and striking. The spectator feels this particular mixture of worry, astonishment