|SIMON DENISON IMAGE & TEXT|
THIS IS NOT A HOUSE
Dewi Lewis, 2011
ISBN 978-1-907893-02-5 Hb
The pictures in this book have caused something of a rumpus in the States. Commissioned by the New York Times Magazine for a 2009 feature on grandiose construction projects abandoned in the economic downturn, they were pulled once the magazine realised that many had been substantially fabricated – despite Martins’s assurances throughout his career that his imagery involves no digital manipulation. The detective work revealing the inventions – both here and in Martins’s back catalogue – makes entertaining reading in the Metafilter blog: http://www.metafilter.com/83061/Ruins-of-the-Second-Gilded-Age
The qualities of the images themselves – staged interiors and exteriors of various abandoned new-builds – are generally recognised. With their artificial symmetries, unnatural lighting and ‘placings’ of objects within the frame, they recall something of the uncanny silent landscapes of De Chirico. The dispute however highlights the existence of different photographic discourses, the ‘rules’ attached to each and the implicit breach of contract with your audience when the rules are broken – especially when the photographer cites one set of rules and plays by another.
In the current book the art world fights back, as it were. Titled to admit and even emphasise the work’s Surrealist stance, its intent not to be read as transparent documentation, the book contains two essays (one especially pugnacious against the journalists) that stress the constructed nature of all truth and the breadth of ideas raised by Martins’s concoctions, from fantasies about the ‘ideal home’ to the impenetrable nature of the financial system that underpins the economies of the Western world.