The title of “To the Ends of the Earth” isn’t exactly literal. While some of the four artists’ 13 photographs were taken in isolated locales including Antarctica and Greenland, many were taken in more familiar spots, such as the Gulf Coast and the farmlands of Kansas. The images share a format (large), a printing quality (exquisite), and a sensibility (outdoors), but they ultimately diverge. Edward Burtynsky, a master of finding beauty in ecological despoliation, tackles the BP oil spill, while Robert Polidori selects pieces from his voluminous book on Hurricane Katrina. But Alfredo de Stéfano takes a page from the conceptual art of Andy Goldsworthy and Gabriel Orozco by arranging natural objects in out-of-place settings, like blocks of ice in a desert. And Camille Seaman photographs a range of environmental settings, from looming tornadoes to distant icebergs. Burtynsky’s images don’t represent his finest work, but his photograph featuring a tiny zip of a boat coursing through the massive oil slick encapsulates the scale of the disaster in one impressively concise visual. Still, the standout of this show is Seaman. In one image (pictured), she depicts an enormous thunderhead on the plains, dwarfing a cluster of farm buildings. In an even more stunning photograph, she shows a series of three rectangular icebergs floating side by side—a breathtaking, and unexpected, bit of geometrical formalism in a harsh natural environment.
The exhibit is on view Tuesdays to Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays noon-5 p.m. to Oct. 29 at Adamson Gallery, 1515 14th St. NW. Free. (202) 232-0707.