A Symposium on Incarceration, Absence, Photography and Fiction.
At The Shell, Parkside, Birmingham City University
5th December 2018, 2pm – 6pm
Tickets must be purchased in advance; £8.00/£4.00 (plus booking fee).
What Photography has in Common with an Empty Vase is a multifaceted body of work by Edgar Martinsdeveloped from a collaboration with GRAIN Projects and HMP Birmingham (the largest, category B prison in the Midlands). The collaboration was based on engagement with the prison’s inmates and their families as well as a myriad of other local organisations and individuals.
Using the social context of incarceration as a starting point, artist Edgar 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 geographical entity, Martins’ 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 confirm the already held opinions within dominant ideology about crime and punishment: violence, drugs, criminality, race – an approach that only serves to reinforce the act of photographing and photography itself as apotropaic devices.
By focusing on ideas of absence, separation, hope and boundaries the project sends out a clear message: that the usual power relations and discourse associated to this kind of environment should not be perpetuated.
Composed of three distinct chapters, encompassing film, archive and new photography, installation, sculpture, text and sound, 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.
Edgar Martins Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death Life and Other Interludes is a awarded 1st prize in the Still-Life category of SONY World Photography Awards. The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite and 00:00.00 were also awarded second-prize in the Architecture series.
Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death Life and Other Interludes, by Edgar Martins is to be presented at the inaugural edition of Photo Oxford 2017, from 8 -24 September (Barn Gallery, St. John’s College, St. Giles, Oxford, OX1 3JP).
Photo Oxford presents the UK premiere of Edgar Martins’ new work Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes.Produced in collaboration with the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences in Portugal, Martins’ work is borne out of a frustration with photography’s inability to show the nature of death, as opposed to what he describes as the media’s ‘glorification of the gory and the bizarre’. Contemporary depictions of death focus on spectacle, rather than attempt to create the space to encourage an understanding of its causes, contexts and consequences and Martin seeks to bring these to the fore.
The physicality of death is inevitably horrible and often shocking, while its literal depiction in photography – of the dead body in particular – is intrusive. Subjects are powerless, unable to shield their faces or refuse. The challenge of the photograph then, and the photographer, is to communicate something meaningful about death and investigate its anthropological, social and historical contexts as well as its personal relevance.
Through the use of new photography, appropriating previously unseen archive material – including historical photographs, confidential case and medical files, crime and suicide-scene evidence – installation and projections, Martin’s offers a poignant study that proposes to scrutinise, expose and hold in tension many of the contradictions and problems inherent in the depiction on death, as well as on language and semiotics. The artist deploys both documentary photography approaches and fiction and in turn, his series of photographs and text becomes a process of unveiling, rather than straightforward, factual accounts.
Inspired by his own experience of traumatic death, Martins’ project focuses on violent death and, in particular, suicide. In doing so, he meditates on the often unforeseeable but always inevitable nature of mortality and, investigates its legacies through the depiction of material evidence – from extracts from suicide notes, to press photographs reporting family murders to photographic records of deceased persons’ belongings.
This archive material is variously manipulated by Martins, yet forever haunted by the spectres of its victims or perpetrators. Martins photographs become like late nineteenth and early twentieth century spirit photographs, only without the absurd (but for the recipient, tangible and moving) double exposures of ghostly faces or ectoplasm. They move to the heart of the matter, exploring motivation and intent rather than venture into the shocking or grotesque.
Each iteration of Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes is unique, responding to the space and location in which it is displayed. Presented in complex and suggestive sequences, the project is a visual journey towards the struggle of contemplating death, in search of people, places and images that have connection with us on the far side of time.
Curated by Tim Clark and Greg Hobson
Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes will be presented from the 28 January to 4 June 2017 at the José de Guimarães International Art Centre in a wider capacity, including new multi-media presentations using 35mm slide projections and magic lanterns as well as historical archive imagery and objects from the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science’s collection. The show will be presented under the new title Destinerrance (Destinerrância: o lugar do morto é o lugar da fotografia).
The second stage of Edgar Martins’ Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes opens today at Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon. ‘Titled Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes this exhibition involves us in universe of interrogations and reflections about death as well as other moments that allude to the intermittences of life, the interludes and shifts between images that reveal signs and objects, which in the spectrum of death, branch of into a vast arquive of visual, conceptual and documentary relations. This survey which also encompasses images extracted from the artist’s own personal archive was developed in partnership with the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences in Lisbon and Coimbra (Portugal) over a period of three year’ (João Silvério).
This exhibition will be on show from the September 22 until November 4 2016.
The Moth House is pleased to announce the launch of Edgar Martins’ Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes at MAAT, Lisbon.
‘Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes began to take shape during the course of research carried out at the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (INMLCF), in Lisbon. Over a period of three years, Edgar Martins took more than a thousand photographs and scanned more than three thousand negatives from the INML’s vast and extraordinary collection. A significant number of these images depict forensic evidence, particularly weapons and objects used in crimes and suicides, as well as crime scenes, death masks, projectiles, suicide letters and activities inherent to the work of the pathologist. However, alongside these photographs, Edgar Martins also began to recover images from his own archive and produce new photographs on other subjects, intended as a visual, narrative and conceptual counterpoint. The project sits precisely within this counterpoint between images, imaginations and imagery relating to death and the dead body, as an interstitial realm, an interlude, between art and non-art, between past and present, between reality and fiction’ (Sérgio Mah).
This exhibition will be on show from the June 30 until October 17 2016.
The Moth House is pleased to announce the launch of Edgar Martins’ new body of work Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes at Open Eye Gallery (Liverpool, UK).
Produced in collaboration with the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences in Portugal, this project proposes to scrutinize, expose and hold in tension many of the contradictions and problems inherent in the conceptualisation, definition and depiction of death. These intentions collide, overlap and blur in Martins’ images, revealing the fragility of our perceptual and cognitive systems.
Photography continues to have a pivotal role in the representation of death and in mediating our relationship to death. However, the media’s inability to deal with this issue beyond the glorification of the gory and the bizarre leads to serious omissions with profound consequences.
This exhibition attempts to understand our relationship to death, particularly violent death (namely suicide), and photography’s role in this process.
Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes is Martins’ most accomplished body of work to date, marking a clear departure from his default methodology. In this project Martins adopts a hybrid approach to photography, which includes fictional and documentary images, the use and appropriation of previously unseen archive material such as historical photographs, confidential case and medical files, crime and suicide-scene evidence, photo-installation and projection, all the while tapping into the scholarship of several field experts.
Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes will be presented at Museu da Electricidade/MAAT (Lisbon) in June 2016, Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art (Lisbon) in November 2016, amongst other spaces.
A book of this work will be published by The Moth House in September this year.
If you would like to place an advance order for this book, please contact us.
Please join us on Thursday 21st May from 3-4pm at Photo London (The Wapping project Bankside booth) where I will be signing copies of my book The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite.
Please join us for the private-view of Edgar Martins’ upcoming photographic exhibition ‘The Rehearsal of Space & The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite’ at Melanie Rio Gallery (Nantes, France), on Thursday, 12th June 2014, from 19:00-21:00. This will be the inaugural exhibition of this work in France.