The True Cost of Oil by Garth Lenz

These images are from my larger exhibit "The True Cost of Oil which explores the relationship between the world's largest energy project and the environment - both local and global - which it threatens.
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These images are from my larger exhibit “The True Cost of Oil which explores the relationship between the world’s largest energy project and the environment – both local and global – which it threatens.

I have included below my artist statement for this body of work. The intact images are meant to visually represent the “cost” of our continued reliance on fossil fuels. Images 7-8, 9-10, and 16-17 are meant to be viewed as complimentary pairs. There is a more equal balance of images of the surrounding boreal forest in the original exhibit. Artist Statement The True Cost Of Oil: Canada’s Tar Sands and the Last Great Forest The True Cost of Oil exhibit is a comparative study of the Alberta Tar Sands and the surrounding boreal forest. These contrasting subjects serve as a visual metaphor of the cost of our ongoing consumption of fossil fuels. The boreal forest ecosystem is the world’s greatest terrestrial storehouse of carbon and Canada’s boreal forest is considered the largest and most intact forest remaining on Earth. In the middle of this ecosystem lie northern Alberta’s Tar Sands, the world’s third largest oil reserves and its largest energy project. They are also possibly the most visually compelling example of all that is wrong with our consumption of fossil fuels while at the same time offering stunning opportunities to make images of great scope, power, and variety.

Making extensive use of aerial photography, The True Cost of Oil includes images of vast tar mines, tailings ponds, and refineries, as well as some of the world’s largest wetlands and remaining tracts of forest. My approach includes images of pure abstraction as well as those of a more documentary nature. The inherent beauty in many of the images of industrial devastation is often at odds with our preconceptions of this subject matter while reflecting our complicated relationship with fossil fuels; while we lament the negative impacts of fossil fuel extraction, we continue to enjoy their benefits. The True Cost of Oil explores the power of nature, our power to transform the landscape on a previously unimaginable scale, and most importantly, the risks we are willing to take to meet our demands for power from fossil fuels and the true cost of those demands. It is my hope that this exhibit will invite viewers to consider the true cost of our dependence on fossil fuels. [Official Website]

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