United Kingdom

Edgar Martins



Edgar Martins was born in Évora but grew up in Macau. In 1996 he moved to the UK, where he completed a BA in Photography at the London College of Printing & Distributive Trades, as well as an MA in Photography and Fine Art at the Royal College of Art (London).
His work is represented internationally in several high-profile collections, such as those of the V&A (London), the National Media Museum (Bradford, UK), RIBA (London), the Dallas Museum of Art (USA); Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon), Fundação EDP (Lisbon), Fondation Carmignac (Paris), among others.
His first book—Black Holes & Other Inconsistencies—was awarded the Thames & Hudson and RCA Society Book Art Prize. A selection of images from this book was also awarded The Jerwood Photography Award in 2003.
Between 2002 and 2014 Martins published 7 separate monographs, which were also received with critical acclaim.
In 2010 the Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian (Paris) hosted Edgar Martins’ first retrospective exhibition.
Edgar Martins was the recipient of the inaugural New York Photography Award (Fine Art category) in May 2008. In 2009 he was also awarded the prestigious BES Photo Prize (Portugal), as well as a SONY World Photography Award (Landscape category). More recently, Edgar Martins was nominated for the Prix Pictet 2009 and awarded 1st prize in the Fine Art— Abstract category of the 2010 International Photography Awards.
Martins was selected to represent Macau (China) at the 54th Venice Biennale.


The Rehearsal of Space & the Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite

In 2012 I approached the European Space Agency with a very ambitious proposal: to produce the most comprehensive survey ever assembled about a leading scientific and space exploration organization.

Though notoriously secretive, I have contacted ESA at an interesting time in its history when it is looking to open up a dialogue with the general public.

It is the first time hat it has granted an artist exclusive access to all of its facilities, staff, programs, technology, etc.

This project had an 18-month gestation period and covers more than 20 separate facilities spread across 9 different countries.

This projects looks to critically engage with ESA’s programs, whilst also reflecting on the new politics of space exploration as well as the impact of this kind of technological application on our individual and social consciousness.

ESA's spaces are inexorably heterogenous, places where there is a convergence, overlapping and blurring of meanings, functions and temporalities so my main challenge with this project was to develop an approach that was simultaneously descriptive and speculative, documenting but also disassembling the spaces and objects and therefore revealing their poetic derivations and their cultural and ideological resonances.


The Accidental Theorist

Shot largely on the same set of beaches in Portugal over a period of two years, the imagery of The Accidental Theorist is a series of instants that have become independent of reason or purpose.
This landscape is familiar, ubiquitous, and yet imaginary, unreal. It is full of stillness and silence yet the pervasive tranquillity is not reassuring but discordant, inconsistent, intangible.
All that typifies the holiday beach experience is missing. There is an overwhelming sense of the theatrical and the melancholic.
The beach is rendered as little more than a proscenium awaiting some event.


A Metaphysical Survey of British Dwellings

Shot entirely in a mock-up town, built in 2003, to train the Firearms and Public Order Units of the UK’s Metropolitan Police, this series deals with urbanism in all its contradictoriness and ambiguity.
This ultra-realistic specialist training centre is not just a simulacrum of contemporary British towns, it is also a metaphor for the modern asocial city.
Nothing moves in or out of these buildings.
The urban fabric fades into the twilight, forcing us to fill in the absences that the night relentlessly exposes.
An ambiguous game of identity and relation is played out, a game which encompasses an enigmatic assemblage of everyday life, transmission and flow, dislocation, bewilderment and solitude.
These images depend on photography’s inherit tendency to make each space believable, but there is a disturbing suggestion that all is not what it seems.
This process of slow revelation and sense of temporal manipulation is crucial to the work.