Purdy Hicks Gallery is pleased to present a new exhibition of photographic works by Edgar Martins. The series exhibited is titled Destinerrance and themed on the object of the letter, as a medium of communication and documentation, visibility and absence.
Destinerrance is a term proposed by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida in his seminal book La Carte Postale. According to the author, Destinerrance combines notions of destination and destiny with error or errancy. Every missive, every letter, he suggests, risks ending up in the wrong place, being misinterpreted, arriving at the wrong addressee, because it must use iterable language, and therefore the context of any given utterance can never be finally exhaustively delimited.
Every written letter becomes a dead letter too, gets stuck in the dead letter office, no return to sender, no addressee found, because of the inherent quality of writing to detach from its author, to circulate and continue to signify long after death.
The images included in this exhibition tap into Derrida’s conception of Destinerrance, and comprise previously unseen works from Martins’ most recent projects: Siloquies and Soiloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes (2016), and What Photography has in Common with an Empty Vase (2018).
Although the subject-matter of this exhibition is the letter itself (the suicide letter, letters exchanged with inmates and their relatives, the poignant post-it note, etc), Martins’ images suggest that neither text or image is a communication system capable of fulfilling a documentary function.
Edgar Martins was born in Évora (Portugal) but grew up in Macau (China). In 1996 he moved to the UK, where he studied at the University of the Arts, and the Royal College of Art. His work is represented internationally in collections, such as the V&A (London), the National Media Museum (Bradford), RIBA (London), the Dallas Museum of Art (USA); MAST (Italy), Fondation Carmignac (Paris).