Edgar Martins. Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes

Sérgio Mah

Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes began to take shape during the course of research carried out by Edgar Martins at the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science in Lisbon and Coimbra. Between 2013 and 2015, the artist took over 1,000 photographs and digitalised over 3,000 negatives from the vast and extraordinary archive held by the INMLCF. A significant number of these images depict forensic evidence in the form of weapons and objects used in crimes and suicides as well as crime scenes, death masks, projectiles, suicide notes and activities bound up with the work of forensic scientists. In parallel, Edgar Martins (b. 1977) began to retrieve images from his archive and to produce new photographs of other subjects that were intended to offer a visual, narrative and conceptual counterpoint.

By establishing a fruitful link between documentary and factual records and images that seek to explore their speculative and fictional potential, Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes sets out to examine the tensions and diversions inherent in the representation and imagination of death, particularly violent death. Correlatively, it also seeks to explore the essential but highly paradoxical role that photography – in all its epistemological, aesthetic and ethical implications – has played in enabling us to perceive and make sense of death.

After projects with significant formal homogeneity and a greater incidence of themes around technology, architecture, landscape and the notion of place, this work reveals a transition in Edgar Martins' creative trajectory. For the exhibition, he drew on a vast and diverse set of visual types and processes — photographs, appropriations, projections, installation, text — signaling a growing inclination for a more hybrid and expanded perspective of photography practice and the experience of images.