Edgar Martins

Lives & works: UK

Edgar Martins was born in Évora, Portugal (1977) and grew up in Macau, China, where he published his first novel entitled “Mãe deixa-me fazer o pino”. In 1996 he moved to the UK, where he completed a BA in Photography at the University of the Arts followed by an MA in Photography Fine Art at the Royal College of Art in London, UK. Author of  over 15 critically acclaimed books since 2002, Martins has exhibited internationally at PS1 MoMA; MOPA, San Diego, USA; MACRO, Rome; MAST, Bologna; Laumeier Sculpture Park, Centro Cultural de Belém, Centro de Arte Moderna de Bragança, Centro de Arte Moderna and MAAT, Lisbon; Centro Cultural Hélio Oiticica, Brazil; The New Art Gallery Walsall, UK; PM Gallery & House, The Gallery of Photography, Dublin; Ffotogallery and The Wolverhampton Art Gallery & Museum, UK;  Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris; Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool UK;  José de Guimarães International Art Centre, Portugal; New Walk Museum & Art Gallery Leicester, UK and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul among others.

Field Editions is proud to present Edgar Martins’ work ‘Lockdown. Tonight. Let it Go’, from a series entitled ‘What Photography & Incarceration have in Common with an Empty Vase’, a multifaceted body of work, developed in collaboration with Grain Projects and HM Prison Birmingham (the largest category B prison in the Midlands, UK); its inmates, their families and 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.

The writing on the pencils in this triptych work is inspired by a prison inmate who spent a great deal of time in solitary confinement due to his disruptive behaviour. As a way of secretly communicating with others without the knowledge of the prison staff, he would spend his time carefully erasing the writing and brand names on stationery and cigarette packs in order to painstakingly paint or stencil his own words or messages in their place. These objects would then be handed to prison guards, who, unaware of the subversion taking place, passed them on to other inmates or family members.

Edgar Martins was the recipient of the Thames & Hudson and RCA Society Book Art Prize (2003), the Jerwood Photography Award (2003), the New York Photography Award 2008, the BES Photo Prize (2009), The SONY World Photography Award (2010), the International Photography Awards 2010 and the SONY World Photography Award (2017). He was also nominated for the Prix Pictet 2010 and received honorable mentions in competitions such as the ICP Infinity Awards (2004), Concurso Purification Garcia (2012), the New York Photography Awards (2013), Voies Off (2017), Hariban Award (2017), Lens Culture/Magnum Awards (2017).

Edgar Martins was selected to represent Macau (China) for the 54th Venice Biennale.



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