Friday, October 23, 2009

EnCana Just Says No to Being Mentioned Alongside Ed Burtynsky

A couple of weeks ago, after my Q&A with Ed Burtynsky was published in the National Post, I got an unhappy letter from Calgary-based oil co EnCana.

See, sometimes I start my art Q&As with an attempt at a newsy lead—-a stab at underlining that hey, art can relate to the real world sometimes! Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but I like to at least try.

In the case of my chat with Burtynsky, which focused on his huge oil-documentation project currently on at the Corcoran in Washington and Nicholas Metivier in Toronto, I observed at the top of the article that EnCana had just announced a big oil project of their own.

Here's an edited version of what EnCana wrote in response, published in the letters section of the Post last week:

Re: Man In Fractured Landscapes, Leah Sandals, Avenue, Oct. 9; EnCana To Launch New Oil Sands Project; Greener Process, Oct. 2.

I would like to express disappointment about a reference to EnCana Corporation in this question-and-answer feature about a photo exhibit that is a largely negative portrayal of the oil industry. The published photos are of a freeway interchange, an oil sands tailing pond and a refinery. Yet the article begins with a mention of a distinctly different proposed project by EnCana.

It appears Ms. Sandals may not have taken the time to read the Post's Oct. 1 story. If she had, she would have realized that the proposed EnCana project is not a mine and that it is considering a new technology that has the potential to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. EnCana has no mining operations and its enhanced oil operations are considered to be industry-leading when it comes to environmental responsibility.

It is unfortunate Ms. Sandals chose to make a misleading connection between EnCana and the art exhibit in her article.

Alan Boras, manager, media relations, EnCana Corporation, Calgary.

Overall, I'm glad EnCana wrote in--admittedly (and sadly) it's an exciting thing for an art writer to get a letter! But it also shows how sensitive oil companies are to the way they are presented in the press. According to View on Canadian Art, Ed Burtynsky's oil project is slated to open at the Art Gallery of Alberta next year... I look forward to the work being displayed there, but I wonder, especially now, how openly it will be received.

Image from


Anonymous said...

Interesting Leah! I think it's great that you got a response from them. Incidentally, I've heard that Burtynsky will show 'Oil' at the Art GAllery of Alberta, but it's not been confirmed yet...But wouldn't it be fantastic..?

Leah Sandals said...

Hi there! Yes, I think I linked to View on Canadian Art's post on Burtynsky showing at the Art Gallery Alberta at the end of this item, something that I would certainly love to see--I'm from Alberta and think it's important to bring these issues to the forefront. But I also wonder now how it will be received. An important venue-exhibition match for sure.