Maxwell Burnstein Creates Limitless Landscapes

Maxwell Burnstein Creates Limitless Landscapes

Maxwell Burnstein's latest series explores climate change through surrealistic collages.

Maxwell Burnstein's latest series explores climate change through surrealistic collages.

Text: Dylan Gray Martin

Sandy shorelines are engulfed by ocean waves from all sides in a stunning display that dislocates the viewer. Despite a surreal perspective, the distorted landscapes speak to the reality of rising sea levels reshaping the planet beyond recognition. This is the compelling content explored in Maxwell N. Burnstein’s latest series, Limitless.

The Canadian artist’s new works are an intriguing evolution of his multi-dimensional collage practice. Armed with an X-Acto knife, Burnstein has mastered visual manipulation in an inimitable style comprised of brash cuts and bold layering. His handcrafted photomontages have proven to have many impactful applications, landing international exhibitions, covers for Elle Magazine, and a collaboration with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).

Burnstein’s new project took him to the W South Beach where he presented the first four works of his ongoing series. His deconstructed beach scenes feel especially relevant in Miami, a seaside city that feels the impact of climate change. Burnstein spoke with us about his recently closed art installation in partnership with Paraiso Fashion Festival.

Much of your collage practice deconstructs fashion photography. Why have you diverted from this trajectory to experiment with natural landscapes?

Landscapes are a part of many of my fashion collaborations as I combine editorial imagery with different ecosystems. Fine art has opened up spaces to explore landscape as a singular theme and apply my values as an activist. While fashion work is extremely fast paced, I can take time with my fine art practice. I have the ability to educate myself, thoughtfully craft, and educate patrons through the exhibiting works.

Where does the concept Limitless come from? Why is it the title of your series?

The earth is eroding, ending the earth’s once limitless potential to sustain life. We can no longer think of the world as infinite and disregard that our individual ecological footprints contribute to climate change. Limitless looks to creatively interrogate issues around global warming and provoke conversations on conservation.

What do you hope the audience gains from viewing your collection? Are you aiming to elicit a specific emotional response or is it up to interpretation?

Art is a non-threatening way to educate viewers on climate change. Discussions on environmental degradation are often fraught with tension, so I instead use the beauty of art to start a dialogue. My art is intended to challenge perceptions and push audiences to educate themselves.

The scale of your latest series is impressive (20x30). Does it present new opportunities or challenges when you explode your prints for a grand space like the W South Beach?

This is the first installation I’ve done of just prints and it’s interesting to see how the large scale adds visual impact. Part of my artistic practice is scanning the final artworks into a digital file to allow for multidimensional applications. This means I can exhibit my fine artwork in conjunction with prints, vinyls and digital media. At present, I am not selling the prints, as a full series exhibition will be announced soon.

There is a fantastical quality to your surreal collages. How did you maintain a quintessentially Miami aesthetic that reflects the Paraiso Fashion Festival?

The artworks are charismatic like the Cuban culture predominant in the city. Placing people into the series adds perspective to the sweeping waves. My series conveys the playfulness and luxurious beauty synonyms with South Beach in the wake of rising sea levels.

Maxwell N. Burnstein
Credits: IMAGES COURTESY OF DYLAN GRAY MARTIN

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