This exhibition presents two perspectives on the true costs of carbon-based fuel production in the 21st century. The first by Garth Lenz explores the environmental costs related to the pending US State Department approval/disapproval of the $5.3 billion Keystone XL Pipeline, planned to bring oil from the Canadian Tar Sands in Alberta to port on the Gulf of Mexico. The other perspective by Lisa Wiltse explores the human costs by focusing on a small ghetto in Manila, Philippines called Ulingan where slum dwellers:
live amid filth and swirls of toxic smoke, eking out a living making charcoal. Children, who comprise a vital portion of the work force, labor without protective masks, gloves, or boots. Some are naked.
Lenz’s project focuses on the work of TransCanada, a global multi-billion dollar company providing energy for a world market. Wiltse’s work focuses on children living in one of the world’s too numerous and too vast slums who also produce energy, but unlike TransCanda, their production supports the energy needs of their immediate neighbors in Ulingan. In both cases the result is fossil fuel consumption that leads to climate change according to the vast majority of climate scientists.
Wiltse’s work is traditional documentary style bringing us into the homes, work, play and lives of these young children with her bold, dark and colorful images. As horrendous as the external circumstances, Wiltse also finds extraordinary beauty and sensitivity in her subjects. They deserve our attention not only because they are victims, but also because they are individuals who share in our humanity. In them we see ourselves and our own children.
Lenz’s work is in the style of traditional landscape shot from an airplane, often with an extremely high resolution camera, capturing breathtaking views of the natural environment juxtaposed to the sites of Tar Sands mining. What Wiltse does with children in Ulingan, Lenz does with trees and waterways in the Canadian boreal forest. Not only does he show us the destructive effects of energy production, but he shows the extraordinary beauty of the surrounding landscape.
In the work of each photographer, we discover both the tragedy of our existence on earth, but also the possibility and the shear wonder and tenacity of both the human and natural spirit.
While each situation marches us on the path of climate change, each also demonstrates quite profoundly why we should care.
—Glenn Ruga, Curator
"Global Warning Reviews"
Boston Magazine- Yiqing Shao, "555 Gallery's Lastest Exhibit Presents Stark Images in 'Global Warning'"