The Rehearsal of Space

Over the last two years photographer Edgar Martins has been given unprecedented access to the premises of the European Space Agency.

Mobile gantry for the Vega Launcher, seen from underneath CGS-Europe's Spaceport (Kourou, French Guiana)
Mobile gantry for the Vega Launcher, seen from underneath CGS-Europe’s Spaceport (Kourou, French Guiana)

The resulting study: The Rehearsal of Space & The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite, goes a long way to capturing the isolation and the otherworldliness of Space.

Mockup of Node 2 or Harmony in the Erasmus high bay, ESA-ESTEC (Noordwijk, The Netherlands)
Mockup of Node 2 or Harmony in the Erasmus high bay, ESA-ESTEC (Noordwijk, The Netherlands)

Martins manages to do this by photographing the alien-like articles of Space in their context on earth, travelling between 20 locations in UK, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Kazakhstan and French Guiana to build up an impression.

S5 payload prepartion complex - spacecraft fuelling bay, CGS-Europe's Spaceport (Kourou, French Guiana)
S5 payload prepartion complex – spacecraft fuelling bay, CGS-Europe’s Spaceport (Kourou, French Guiana)

Martins visited test centres, robotics departments, space simulators, laboratories, launch sites and platforms, astronaut training centres and satellite assembly rooms.

Helmet of a SCAPE suit, CGS-Europe's Spaceport (Kourou, French Guiana)
Helmet of a SCAPE suit, CGS-Europe’s Spaceport (Kourou, French Guiana)

Armed with a large format camera he then set about capturing long exposure shots (each up to an hour).

Astronaut dressing room where the Sokol spacesuits are stored, Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (Star City, Russian Federation)
Astronaut dressing room where the Sokol spacesuits are stored, Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (Star City, Russian Federation)

Out of context they appear eerie and enigmatic, probably because of their connection to things unknown, leaving us to look to science fiction for reference points.   

Space Glove, Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (Star City, Russian Federation)
Space Glove, Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (Star City, Russian Federation)

The Rehearsal of Space & The Poetic Impossibility to Manage the Infinite will be exhibited from 25 April – 29 May 2014 at the Wapping Project Bankside, 65a Hopton Street, SE1 9LR.

Large Space Simulator, ESA-ESTEC (Noordwijk, The Netherlands)
Large Space Simulator, ESA-ESTEC (Noordwijk, The Netherlands)

An accompanying book will be published by La Fabrica/The Moth House in May 2012. 

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