These pictures make me think of an updated take on Edward Weston’s pepper, and they also remind me of the aesthetic of Karl Blossfeldt. I am drawn to the variety of compositions—Martens does not employ a formulaic approach but rather responds to each vegetable as it comes before the frame, responding to and drawing inspiration from it. There is a painterly or hand-made quality to many of these images which is the result of his use of texture, giving the photographs a worn, antiqued look.As a viewer I am most intrigued by the images where the vegetable, or subject, seems to float in space, drawing me in for further observation. An image like ‘Broad Beans’, with depth and layering of imagery is particularly effective, the formations and texture in the background setting off the subjects.The play between scientific observation and aesthetic interpretation results in the singular voice behind this work, which is well-composed and skillfully rendered. Something like ‘Basil’ feels relatively more clinical, while ‘Beetroot’, with the way it is cropped, has a more artful feeling. The play between these two approaches—and the potential of a scientific approach to also have artfulness—is very interesting. In ‘Leek Sprouts’, the form of the sprout almost references a matchstick that has been deformed in some way. This dynamic interaction between reality and perception is most intriguing.
This is a fascinating and compelling idea. I love what it says about how we see and how it so vividly illustrates the subjectivity of photography. That is, how open things become when photographed by different people at different angles. In the end of course they are linked by the moment but also by the black and white. The black and white from different angles for me evokes a sense of surveillance. I was struck by how much these images reflect a kind of voyeurism. Somehow the idea that not just one person is taking a picture of someone unknowing, but three people brings it to a new level. I am not talking about any kind of ethical issue here but just about the ideas that come through when I see the pictures. Interesting and I’d love to see more.
© Sander Martens