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The Anthropocene Project

A highly-anticipated multimedia project documents the indelible human footprint on the Earth.

From concrete seawalls in China that now cover 60 percent of the mainland coast, to the biggest terrestrial machines ever built in Germany, to psychedelic potash mines in Russia’s Ural Mountains, to the devastated Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and surreal lithium evaporation ponds in the Atacama desert, from the marble quarries in Carrara to one of the world’s largest landfill sites in Dandora, Kenya, humans' impact on Earth is unmistakeable and ubiquitous. 

A new photography exhibition comprising four years of scientific research into this global phenomenon, is about to make its debut in Europe at Fondazione MAST, in Bologna, Italy, from May 16th - September 22nd 2019. 

The project follows the research of an international group of scientists, the Anthropocene Working Group, who are investigating whether we have left the Holocene and entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene (from the Greek, anthropos, human).

Their research shows that humans have become the single most defining force on the planet and that the evidence for this is overwhelming. Terraforming of the earth through mining, urbanization, industrialization and agriculture; the proliferation of dams and diverting of waterways; CO2 and acidification of oceans due to climate change; the pervasive presence around the globe of plastics, concrete, and other technofossils; unprecedented rates of deforestation and extinction: these human incursions - they argue - are so massive in scope that they have already entered, and will endure in, geological time.

The exhibition is part of a wider concept called the Anthropocene project, which is a collaboration between the world-renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky and award-winning filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. The project launched in Canada in September 2018 with the feature documentary, ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch making its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Billionaire looks at a selection of the exhibition's startling images. All photos courtesy of Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Hong Kong and Singapore/Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto

Uralkali Potash Mine #4, Berezniki, Russia 2017

Clearcut #1, Palm Oil Plantation, Borneo, Malaysia 2016

Saw Mills #1, Lagos, Nigeria, 2016 

Carrara Marble Quarries, Cava di Canalgrande #2, Carrara, Italy 2016

Makoko #2, Lagos, Nigeria 2016

Coal Mine #1, North Rhine, Westphalia, Germany 2015

Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky working in Northern British Columbia, Canada, 2012 (c) Anthropocene Films Inc. © 2018

The Anthropocene exhibition is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa in partnership with Fondazione MAST. For more information click here.