Carl Martin: An Eponymous Book of Photography
My practice for over twenty-five years has been to acknowledge and elevate existing culture using the intersection of subtle human gesture and a built social environment. Say, a casual side glance, a slight shifting of weight on one leg, the fold and tone of a particular arm, or the slight body twist and raising of face just over the shoulder to engage a viewer, within a sub or urban setting. – Carl Martin
Photographer Carl Martin is, in fact, a visual poet. His legacy of capturing the nuances of people and places familiar to him has resulted in a new book by Fall Line Press, Carl Martin: An Eponymous Book of Photography. Fall Line Press states, “The photographs, taken in Athens, Georgia, over a span of 25 years is a meditation on the nature of what it is for a human being to see and be seen – how do we present ourselves to the world and how is that presentation received – what does it mean? Ultimately this is not a document that is specific to a place or time. It is more akin to a universal canvasing and inventory of the human condition in the ordinary. Yet this plain, clear taking-in with a camera and film places us in closer touch with the quirky, transcendent living presence of Carl’s Athens, Georgia, neighbors and friends than you might have ever have imagined possible. We feel we are looking through Carl’s eyes. And we are amazed. Supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship these photographs found Carl and fortunately they have now found us all. A beautiful, truthful portrait in almost 60 pictures of our time and place and people.”
Carl Martin was born in Athens, Alabama. Through the 1980’s he lived in New York where he studied photography at the School of Visual Arts. In 1990 he relocated to Athens, Georgia. His photographs acknowledge and elevate existing culture using the intersection of subtle human gesture and a built social environment. The range of his work reflects his childhood in Alabama, formative years in New York, and family life in Georgia.
In 1996 Carl won a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1992 and 1995 he was awarded grants from the Georgia Council for the Arts. His work has been exhibited in California, Florida, Georgia and New York. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, The Do Good Fund, the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and numerous private collections. In 2016 and 2017 his photographs were exhibited in two separate exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. Currently, his work is being presented in anexhibition “New Southern Photography” curated by Richard McCabe at the Ogden Museum in New Orleans. The show is a large group survey show of 25 artist and opened Oct. 6th, 2018.
In 2012-13 Fall Line Press published four limited edition issues of Carl’s work in their Free Fall series. In 2018 Fall Line Press published an eponymous titled book, Carl Martin, featuring a major body of his work. Recently the Ogden Museum of Art published a catalog of the show “ New Southern Photography”, of the 25 artists included.
Statement for Carl Martin: An Eponymous Book of Photography
My practice for over twenty-five years has been to acknowledge and elevate existing culture using the intersection of subtle human gesture and a built social environment. Say, a casual side glance, a slight shifting of weight on one leg, the fold and tone of a particular arm, or the slight body twist and raising of face just over the shoulder to engage a viewer, within a sub or urban setting. From The Men Of Georgia (1992-1994) series of individuals shown in the center of a square frame, to Public Gesture (2001-2018) of people within vertical and horizontal framed images, every photograph is a version of this guiding theme. These are common movements that reveal our humanness, our aliveness, and they make for powerful moments in art.
I think that artist create moments with perspective and gesture to define a new entity. I believe that these entities can speak to our humanity and experience as human beings and communicate a link and alignment within ourselves to others. I think that is what human connection is all about, a solidarity with our community. I think art can do this, I have seen art do this, I have experienced art do this. This is my motivation: to connect
with human beings with a personal visual language of my own art to forge a connection. I am excited by the pursuit of what makes an image that sticks around, that has staying power. The goal has always been to “construct” an image, almost like a building, from the raw elements that we find in our community. My work to date has been with people who are visually available, people who are out and can be seen in context of our largely built environment. My conscious / unconscious goal is to stabilize the person with the sub- and urban elements through an arrangement that lends a bit of grace, that formalizes a relationship between the viewer, the subject and myself. My thoughts are that this would give an image a presence, a little bit of power, that could allow it to reach an audience and hence allow the subject a rightful due of attention. This was my goal for my past projects, let the unseen be seen and create a platform for a community to be acknowledged.
My interest now is to refine these ideas, maybe as I am older, in a less obvious and more subtle way. I am looking for language of clarity and simplicity, and at the same time deeply connective. I am less interested in the external appearance of a subject, and more interested in an image that has its strength derived from its arrangement than from its subject. Arranged on the fly out of existing elements, a working photograph for me has an authenticity: an image that looks like and is from what is already there, to celebrate being alive. – Carl Martin
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