What Photography & Incarceration have in Common with an Empty Vase is a new book by Edgar Martins, scheduled to be launched this July.
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.
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170x230mm & 151x221mm
220 & 312 pages
Softback & Harback
Essay by Mark Durden
Edgar Martins’ What Photography has in Common with an Empty Vase is awarded one of the top 3 prizes at Lens Culture Art Awards. A book of this work will be published by The Moth House in March 2019.
In 2016 GRAIN Projects commissioned artist Edgar Martins to respond to Winson Green in Birmingham and the site and community of HM Prison Birmingham. Martins is creating a significant, multifaceted body of work developed from a collaboration with the prisoners and their families, as well as a myriad of other local organisations and individuals. Using the social context of incarceration as a starting point, Martins’ work explores the philosophical concept of absence, and addresses a broader consideration of the status of the photograph where questions of visibility, ethics, aesthetics and documentation intersect.
The works Martins presents in I’m Still Here are directly inspired and informed by his personal project, but were specially produced for this context at the invitation of the Koestler Trust. The artist was asked to engage and respond to the experiences of the five families that have curated the Koestler Trust’s annual offender and detainee art awards exhibition.
A book of this work will be published by The Moth House in March 2019.
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.
We are pleased to announce that Edgar Martins’ new book ‘Destinerrance: The Place of the Dead is the Place of Photography’, produced in partnership with the CIAJG, Portugal will be launched tomorrow at the José de Guimarães International Art Centre. This academic book, focuses solely on Martins’ artistic process, particularly the process of conception of his new project Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes and subsequent presentation at the CIJAG, in January 2017.
If you would like to place an order for this book please contact us.
Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes was selected as one of the best books of 2017 by Lens Culture. To read more pleack click here.
Book Launch: Destinerrance: The Place of the Dead is the Place of Photograph, by Edgar Martins to be launched on 10.11.2017 @ Paris Photo. This publication is co-published by CIAJG & The Moth House. More news to follow.
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
Daniel C. Blight makes a poignant analysis and reflection on Edgar Martins’ Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes. Read the article here.