EDGAR MARTINS

The Rehearsal of Space and The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite
25th April - 29th May 2014
Interior of Large Space Simulator vaccum chamber, ESA-ESTEC, Noordwijk (The Netherlands)
2014
C-print
180x225cm
Edition: 5/5
The Wapping Project Bankside is delighted to announce The Rehearsal of Space & the Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite (2014), Edgar Martins' most anticipated series to date and the result of a long-term collaboration with the European Space Agency. The Rehearsal of Space is the most comprehensive photographic survey ever produced about a leading scientific and space exploration organisation.

In 2012, Edgar Martins was granted unparalleled access to ESA and its partners' programs, including the microgravity, telecommunication, human spaceflight, lunar and Mars exploration programs. Over the past two years, he has travelled to 20 locations across the UK, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Kazakhstan and French Guyana to shoot in classified facilities such as test centres, robotics departments, space simulators, laboratories, launch sites and platforms, astronaut training centres and satellite assembly rooms.

The photographs were shot using long exposures (up to one hour) and a 10x8", large format camera. Their clean composition and hyper-real sharpness contrast greatly with the veil of secrecy and enigma that usually shrouds space-related activity. Although rarely seen by the public, the technology and facilities in The Rehearsal of Space look strangely familiar, underlining popular culture's influence in shaping our understanding of space exploration (the artist often cites fortuitous references such as Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity or Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon).

Martins' rigorous, study-like exposé reveals the sheer scale this global scientific endeavour, perhaps the greatest of our time. Altogether, there are over 90 photographs in the series, ranging from the macro – rockets, satellites, training modules, fuel rooms, to micro–components barely visible to the human eye. As always, his approach is both, descriptive and speculative, and it is somewhere between fact and fiction that the photographs take on their full meaning. The Rehearsal of Space documents our quest to penetrate the astrophysical reality of the universe in order to better understand time, space, and matter. In doing so, Martins highlights the wider politics of space exploration, the ever-growing role of science and technology in our society and our relationship with the unknown, whilst opening up wider questions around epistemology, metaphysics and ultimately humanity's conception of itself.

The Rehearsal of Space and The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite (24x32cm, hardback, clothbound, 184 pp., 86 colour plates, essays by John Gribbin, João Seixas & Sérgio Mah) will be published by La Fabrica/The Moth House in May 2014. This publication will be available in a bilingual edition in English and Spanish.

About Edgar Martins
Born in 1977 in Évora, Edgar Martins grew up in Macau (China). He moved to the UK in 1996, where he completed an MA in Photography and Fine Art at the Royal College of Art. Recent exhibitions include the 54th Venice Biennale, PS1 MoMA (New York), the Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian (Paris), The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation – CAM (Lisbon), EDP Foundation (Lisbon), Centro Cultural Hélio Oiticia (Rio de Janeiro), The New Art Gallery (Walsall), The Gallery of Photography (Dublin) and The Wapping Project Bankside (London). His work can be found in numerous public, private and corporate collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), the National Media Museum (Bradford, UK), the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas, USA); the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon), Carmignac Foundation (Paris), amongst others. Edgar Martins works and lives in the UK.