Our Thirsty World

On the weekend I saw a spectacular exhibit on water – a joint show by the Annenberg Space for Photography and National Geographic, who’s current issue is all about water use.

The photographs (including a couple of Burtynsky’s, although not the ones I really wanted to see) and accompanying film beautifully illustrated our relationships with water, all across the planet. From places with plenty, or even too much, to places where women literally spend 8 hours a day collecting water for their family to drink and eat – and to the asshole who asked why they didn’t just move closer to the well, maybe you should have paid a little more attention to the film and check your privilege at the door. These were photographs about waste and exploitation, about human feats and celebration, about our total dependence on water for simply getting by.

I’m a big believer in art engaging us in issues, in emotionalizing an issue (according to James Cameron this is what Avatar did for the rain forest – thank goodness, ‘cause it seems like Sting stopped talking about it a while ago) and these photographs certainly accomplish that.

If you can go to the exhibit do. If not steal the current issue of National Geographic from your parents or your doctors office. Read it, look at it and then hand it on to someone else.

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