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Multi-Layer Insulation, M&C Lab (ESA-ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands) Photograph - Limited Edition of 1

Edgar Martins

Photography, C-type on Paper

Size: 15.7 W x 19.7 H x 2 D in

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About The Artwork

This project has its roots in the early part of 2012, when 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 contacted ESA at an interesting time in their history when they were looking to open up to the public. Unlike NASA or CERN, ESA did not have an artist residency. So I was delighted when they agreed to support my endeavor. It was the first time in its history that they granted an artist exclusive access to all of its facilities, staff, programs, technology, etc. The access I was granted was unparalleled, even within the framework of the residency programs specified above. This project had an 18-month gestation period and so was launched in 2014 It covered more than 15 separate facilities, located across the world: from the UK, to Holland, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Kazakhstan, French Guiana, etc. These locations ranged from test centers, robotics departments, jet propulsion laboratories, space simulators, launch sites and platforms, astronaut training centers and training modules, satellites, technological component and launcher assembly rooms, etc. I feel fortunate that ESA recognised, through my proposal, that artists and cultural users should be entitled to access and engage with space. I was also heartened that ESA welcomed the idea that I may bring with me a critical and artistic perspective. This projects looks, therefore, to engage with ESA and its partners’ programs –the microgravity, telecommunication, navigation, lunar and Mars exploration programs, among others–, whilst also reflecting on the new politics of space exploration as well as the impact of this kind of technological application on our social consciousness. As someone who has always worked in hard-to-access environments, I am interested in the dialogue that these environments can provoke. There are multi-layered challenges for artists working within any established structure – cultural, ethical, legal. In the case of space exploration organisations this can be further exacerbated given the increasing privatization and militarization of space and the constraints that these engagements can activate. So my main challenge was to develop an approach that was simultaneously descriptive and speculative, documenting but also deconstructing the spaces and objects, and thus not only documenting their historical and scientific value but also their poetic derivations and revealing their cultural and ideological resonances.

Details & Dimensions

Photography:C-type on Paper

Artist Produced Limited Edition of:1

Size:15.7 W x 19.7 H x 2 D in

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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. These works were exhibited internationally at institutions such as PS1 MoMA (New York), MOPA (San Diego, USA), Laumeier Sculpture Park (St. Louis, USA), Centro Cultural de Belém (Lisbon), Centro de Arte Modern de Bragança (Bragança, Portugal), Museu do Oriente (Lisbon), Centro Cultural Hélio Oiticica (Rio de Janeiro), The New Art Gallery Walsall (Walsall, UK), PM Gallery & House (London), The Gallery of Photography (Dublin), Ffotogallery (Penarth, Wales), The Wolverhampton Art Gallery (Wolverhampton, UK), amongst others. In 2010 the Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian (Paris) hosted Edgar Martins’ first retrospective exhibition. In 2014 The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation/Modern Art Centre hosted the official launch of The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite, a project developed in partnership with The European Space Agency. 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). In 2010 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.

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