Edgar Martins is a Portuguese photographer who studied and lives in London. His work characteristically involves long exposures and he imparts a calm and surreal quality to industrial and urban landscapes. His series “The Time Machine”, working with the EDF Foundation, highlighted the beauty of 20 hydro-electricity generating plants across Portugal. In 2010, his series ” A Metaphysical Survey of British Dwellings” created a ghostly and eerie beauty at night in a mock-up town which was built in 2003 to train the Firearms and Public Order Units of the UK’s Metropolitan Police, with not a human being in sight, which he calls “a metaphor for the modern asocial city. Nothing moves in or out of these buildings.”
For his latest exhibition ‘The Rehearsal of Space and the Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite’ at the Wapping Project at Bankside, just round the corner from Tate Modern, he spent the last two years photographing 15 facilities of the European Space Agency and its partner agencies, across Europe and beyond, to Russia and French Guiana. Martins approached the Agency in 2012 and it is the first time that they granted an artist exclusive access to all of their facilities and those of their partners. The locations are wide and varied, in nature as well as geography and include “test centers, robotics departments, jet propulsion laboratories, space simulators, launch sites and launch platforms, astronaut training centers and training modules, satellites and technological components, payload/launcher assembly and integration rooms”.
As with his other work, his photographs are images of haunting beauty, with not a earthling to be seen, as if frozen in space and time. Martins comments: “Working on this project reasserted my belief that space-exploration programmes are of the utmost importance to the development of science, engineering, education, medicine, inspiring novel spin-off technologies that will have further applications [for us all] in future.”. The exhibition is accompanied by a well-illustrated book which contains many more photographs than those on display.