Paul Roth, Finding Purpose: Burtynsky’s Archive at RIC — Jérôme Delgado

[Summer 2022]

Finding Purpose: Burtynsky’s Archive at RIC
An interview by Jérôme Delgado

The internationally renowned artist and environmental photographer Edward Burtynsky was born in St. Catharines, on the shore of Lake Ontario – just a few pulls of the oars from Toronto, where he went to Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (today Ryerson University), graduating in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in photography and media studies. He established his studio on Spadina Avenue, where he founded photographic services businesses (Toronto Image Works in 1985 and Think2Thing in 2014). It was a little surprising that the Ryerson Image Centre (RIC), situated since its inauguration in 2012 on the university’s campus, was chosen by Burtynsky as the repository for his images. Upon completion of the donation, which will stretch over several years, the RIC, a research and exhibition centre, will house the largest collection of Burtynsky’s works. Its director, Paul Roth, who began working with Burtynsky in 2009, as curator of his exhibition Oil, agreed to talk about this important donation.

Jérôme Delgado: In 2020, it was announced that celebrated Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky has decided to offer to your institution many hundreds of images related to projects he has been working on for fifty years. What does this multi-year donation represent for RIC?
Paul Roth: Although the Ryerson Image Centre has many large and extraordinary collections among our holdings, and it grows every year, it is really an honour for us to have gained Ed’s trust as the repository for his archive. His relationship with the institution as a former student of Ryerson’s School of Image Arts and as a founding member of the RIC’s advisory board means that there’s a personal element to this. At the same time, Ed’s decision to situate his collection at Ryerson and in Toronto has brought a great deal of new visibility and positive attention our way, and it also shows his pride as an alumnus of the school and as a Canadian artist. Ed speaks about this motivation in a conversation that he and I had about the donation in one of the RIC’s regular Noon Time Collections Talks.1

1 Held in the fall of 2021, this talk can be viewed on the RIC You Tube channel alongside its other recorded public programs.

[ Complete issue, in print and digital version, available here: Ciel variable 120 – FIGURES OF AFFIRMATION ]
[ Complete article and more images, in digital version, available here: Paul Roth, Finding Purpose: Burtynsky’s Archive at RIC — Jérôme Delgado ]