What Photography & Incarceration have in Common with an Empty Vase is a new book by Edgar Martins, scheduled to be launched this month.
What Photography & Incarceration have in Common with an Empty Vase is a multifaceted body of work developed from a collaboration with Grain Projects and HM Prison Birmingham (the largest, category B prison in the Midlands, UK), its inmates, their families as well as a myriad of other local organisations and individuals.
Using the social context of incarceration as a starting point, Martins explores the philosophical concept of absence, and addresses a broader consideration of the status of the photograph when questions of visibility, ethics, aesthetics and documentation intersect. By giving a voice to inmates and their families and addressing prison as a set of social relations rather than a mere physical space, the work proposes to rethink and counter the sort of imagery normally associated with incarceration.
The project thus wilfully circumvents images whose sole purpose, Martins argues, is to confirms the already held opinions within dominant ideology about crime & punishment: violence, drugs, criminality, race – an approach that only serves to reinforce the act of photographing and photography itself as apotropaic devices.
Composed of three distinct chapters, encompassing film, archive and new photography, and text, Martins’ work shifts between image and information, between fiction and evidence, strategically deploying visual and textual details in tandem so that the viewer becomes aware of what exists outside the confines of the frame. This work marks a significant transition in Martins’ creative trajectory, signalling a growing inclination towards a broader, more hybrid and interdisciplinary perspective of images.
170x230mm & 151x221mm
220 & 312 pages
Softback & Harback
Essay by Mark Durden