Before Ever After – Kenya and Tanzania 2019

Artist Statement

Mass extinctions, which periodically wiped out up to 95 percent of species, occurs every 50-100 million years.  In the last 40 years nearly 50 percent of wildlife around the world has disappeared. In 2018, the earth lost its last White Rhino to old age. This species have survived insurmountable challenges for thousands of years, but in the end, it was unable to survive us.  If the science is correct, we are currently in the middle of the sixth such extinction because we left no safe space for millions of species to sustainably coexist. The news was unique in its message of finality: extinction is unfolding right before our eyes.

With the planet at a crossroads, I returned to East Africa to catch a glimpse into one of the earth’s last wild places; a tiny area of prehistory that still connects us to a time before modern man took over.  

As a landscape photographer, I search out extraordinary aspects of a place, open myself up to the reality of a scene and translate that into an image. In many ways, I am a guide – sharing those experiences so people know these places exist and are important. The beauty I found here was almost indescribable – visceral, fluid and raw. It stops you dead in your tracks and humbles you. Knowing this could all disappear in one’s lifetime, is heart-breaking.

My hope is that my photographs will serve to build bridges of empathy to these sensitive landscapes and ecosystems. We need these wild places as much as the animals of which call it home, for wilderness is the fabric of our universe.  Humans are biological creatures just as they are, breathing the same air, drinking the same water and walking on the same earth. We are not separate from the landscape – as they are not – and so to save these places is also about saving us.

My project Before Ever After was less about documenting the dwindling species than it was an effort re-present them in a distinctly contemporary way, as a reminder that such animals are not mythical beats, but earthly proprietors whose human tenants are both their greatest danger and only hope. In the series, which comprises images taken in Tanzania and Kenya, I see the African plane as a geographical equalizer, and not just between non-human species: lions rest in a sliver of shade, giraffes stand in formation as though posing for a family portrait, two elephants—a mother and her calf—walk across my frame. Animals are beings as deserving of the protections we expect ourselves”

Artist Biography

Vancouver, Canada, based David Burdeny has exhibited with the Jennifer Kostuik Gallery since 2001, showcasing his images from the world over, including Antarctica, Iceland, Brazil, China, Burma, Cambodia, France, Italy, Canada and the USA. Known for his finely composed photographs, David Burdeny has spent the past 20 years exploring a variegated photographic Landscape ranging from minimal seascapes, ornate European interiors to abstract aerial images. Widely collected in Canada, the USA, Asia and Europe, the sheer beauty of David’s images has firmly placed him within the realm of Canada’s most sought after photo-based artists. David’s willingness to take risks, eschew dogma and continuously pursue his innate curiosity for new subjects and themes has become a signature element in his work. Be it mounting a camera beneath a self -built drone, shooting from the deck of an Antarctic bound icebreaker or waiting for an ocean tide to advance, David faithfully imbeds his own formal signature into each and every image further expressing a lifelong passion for the built environment and the camera’s interpretation of it. Distinctly David Burdeny, the photographs are rigorous yet graceful, inviting the viewer to form their own narrative as if they too were passing through space or gazing into the horizon for the very first time.

David Burdeny’s Masters in Architecture and Interior Design background combined with his upbringing in the vast Canadian prairies provides the template for his keen technical ability, enduring patience and minimalist aesthetic. Recently moving from using large format film to now the finest available digital cameras and precision optics, his images are rendered large and detailed. A Bright Future- Photographs of Russian Subways, Theaters and Palaces 2015 received an explosion of media interest, especially in the UK and Russia. Burdeny was in New York City to receive his First Place Award from IPA for Avata Metro Station, St. Petersburg, Russia in the Category of Historic Architecture, and was interviewed for the most recent articles for The Guardian UK and Wired publications amongst several others. In 2012, the Ancora Series of 2010 was exhibited at the Centre for Photographic Art, Carmel CA, Curated by Richard Gadd. Burdeny has won several gold awards in international art photography competitions, most significantly receiving International Photographer of the Year in the Nature category for Canada, revealed at the Lucie Awards Ceremony in New York City, October 2008. His first book Shorelines sold out in both the limited collector edition and trade publication. He has 10 Limited Edition Photographic Series currently offered and is represented by other art dealers in Canada, the USA and Europe. His second hard cover book is A Bright Future, 2015 with text by esteemed writer and translator, Rosamund Bartlett.


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