Martin Cregg Photography


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Martin Cregg Photography

  1. 1. Martin Cregg Martin Cregg (b.1976) is an Irish photographer who‟s approach adapts certain aspects of Conceptual Art and Minimalism, as well as a self-reflexive edge to the paradigm of documentary photography. His extensive body of work and first book - „Midlands‟ was first shown in the Gallery of Photography, Dublin in 2008 and has since been exhibited in New Zealand and as part of the „Home Economics‟ group show in Aarles 2009. This presentation is a sample of the „Midlands‟ project as well as some more recent work.
  2. 2. Martin Cregg‟s book „Midlands‟ (2009) charted the construction of the Irish midlands region from the height of the economic boom in the early part of the decade, to the economic insecurities and uncertainties of recession times. The book is an extensive project which, over a five year period, documented the space that the „urbanization‟ of rural Ireland created - factories that are built due to tax incentives, homogeneous housing estates, warehouses, Industrial estates; which, to this date, lay empty and uninhabited due to the changing economic climate. On a broader socio-economic note, these are testament to the insanity of developers and planners over the last few years. “The framework has been laid down, but is largely dormant – it‟s factories solicit the hum of productivity; its empty estates seek claim to community.” Creggs „Midlands‟ is a grey area – a non- specified geographical entity, under constant construction and re-definition. It focuses on the concept of what „the midlands‟ is – non-defined, non- geographic, non-place.
  3. 3. “I am interested in topographical studies, of course; but, I find that the spaces I am focusing on are interesting in the context of their place in rural Ireland. I find that I am working to „re-negotiate‟ the archetype representation of Irish landscape, as well as deal with the transformation of the landscape and its values which occurred during the „Celtic Tiger‟ period. With this in mind, you can see, the work has gone a bit more „abstract‟ - further and further away from showing any rural at all! Instead the rural is denied, the spaces depicted are grey areas - homogeneous, un-defined, non-expressive, non-organic, non-geographic, non-places.” – Martin Cregg, July 2008
  4. 4. Suspended State (August 2008 - ) My work has charted the topographical changes which have occurred in the last 6 years – from the height of economic activity (and its effects on the landscape) right through to recession times (and the visible effects it has had on landscape). „Suspended State‟ is an expansion of a previous project – „Midlands‟. It deals with the current economic climate in Ireland - its people, its landscapes left in a state of suspension due to the global recesssion. If „Midlands‟ was about construction, then „Suspended State‟ is about that construction in a state of abandonment. The places that I am concentrating on are recent constructions – factories, industrial estates, housing estates which have been built (or in some cases „almost‟ built) and abandoned. They are uncertain spaces in a state of neglect. They are spaces which held a thrusting activity up to the point of the recession, but have now got an aura of hopelessness and desolation. They are testament to the economic times in which we live – an era of uncertainty, despondency and relinquished pursuits.
  5. 5. There is overall a sense of abandonment – this is reinforced throughout the work. The approach is similar to the approach to the Midlands – however the flat, formal methodology is cast aside. The approach of „Suspended State‟ needed to be changed to reflect this. Here, the use of light is important, to reinforce the idea that nature is reclaiming the spaces. While the underlying context to the work is economic, social and historical, it also signifies the eternal cycle of construction and destruction. Depicting the earth as almost excavation - where organic cycles are disrupted by society and then return. The shattered surfaces and forms of the landscape can signify the discontinuities of recent history – the landscape in a suspended state, anxiously awaiting a time of stability.
  6. 6. I am interested in conceptual art, adding a bit of performance and reflexivity to the documentary approach. There is an almost „forensic‟ approach to landscape - connected to the idea of „fact finding‟, „exploration‟ of an alien environment to the approach (I even suited-up in a forensic outfit to see how it would change the approach). I was scrutanizing and exploring the anonymity of the man-made, abandoned and neglected environment. I treated this like an alien environment, which the idea of a loss of sense of scale in some of the images creating a more abstract feel to the approach. The idea of adding a bit more „reflexivity‟ - revealing the construction of the image (dropping in the tripod, etc) - is designed to maybe retrieve that sense of scale and point to the fact that it is documentary (or maybe to reclaim that space as a more psychological space?)
  7. 7. Course (Sept 2009 - ) Course is a work on progress. I am still grappling with how to conceptualize it, so it is still pretty vague at this point. I teach History and Theory of Photography, and, I suppose, this work is about my experience of teaching this. At the beginning they were simple studies of the room in which photography was taught. I had started to photograph aspects of the rooms after my own lectures. Some reference the „topic‟ of the class I have just finished - eg. the image „After Pictorialism‟ references the Pictorialist style, the image „Chairs After Modernism‟ reference the modernist style. So, in effect, photographing the post-lecture chairs in a style after modernism or pictorialism, etc. The project has started to become more and more self-reflexive. I have started to add notes, scribbles, white board markings, which have moved the history class along – as well as notes which have moved my project of teaching history along. My approach is to document the experience of teaching history, through the college year, keep records, notes, ephemera, and start to piece it together in the summer. Here is a sample of some of the work so far.
  8. 8. Home (working title) Home is a word that suggests a direction, a place, an origin and a longing to return. This is an ongoing project which has a more personal and emotive motivation. It is about the relationship between myself and my background, my sense of self, my memories of home and my search to find my place within it at this point of my life. Most of the work is taken in my home in rural Ireland – where I grew up; some are taken in Boston – where a large „parallel‟ part of my extended family live. In the images, there is a direct relationship between my role as a photographer and my family‟s world of work (my rural background) - a delicate and uncomfortable balancing-act between „belonging‟ and disassociation.
  9. 9. I find myself fully asserting a sense of self, and of trying to find a possible lost sense of self. There is a longing to connect, or reconnect, to the place, to the land and to the family. Yet, the overriding impression or feeling is one of „distance‟.
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