A major contemporary photographer in an unexpected environment
Photographer Edgar Martins presents The Wayward Line in the Château de Gruyères, one of the Switzerland’s favourite tourist attractions. The steep climb up to the fortified chateau that overlooks the pasturelands is rewarded by one of the more enigmatic photo exhibitions of the year.
In carefully orchestrated images that are reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s arresting tableaux, Portuguese-born, Macau-raised, British-trained photographer Edgar Martins makes portraits of landscapes and buildings that are saturated with emptiness. Their eerie lighting suspends time.
In the series This is not a house commissioned by New York Times magazine in 2008, large-scale colour photographs of abandoned houses speak of the heartache of the US subprime crisis: leaves litter the living room floor, timber lies waiting for an unfinished ceiling.
At a police public disorder training centre in Gravesend, Kent, Martins slips his camera into the mock-up town complete with a high street bank, a post office and a takeaway restaurant and waits for nothing to happen. A Metaphysical Survey of British Dwellings is a delightful misnomer since there is nothing metaphysical about the survey and the dwellings are unreal.
Airports, hydroelectric stations, the wilderness of Iceland complete Martins’ unordinary palette, not exactly the kind of stuff that sends your pulses racing. But Martins' long exposure times allow his camera to penetrate through the different layers of light and instill the takes with a mysterious glow.
The pictures in Gruyères bring an unexpected life to the castle’s august surroundings of brocade and armour.