Martin Roemers

b. 1962 in the Netherlands
Lives and works in the Netherlands

Mankind originally lived far closer to nature, but today more than half of humanity lives in cities. Intrigued by the process of advancing urbanization, Martin Roemers has created the Metropolis series, photographs of life in 22 megacities located on five continents.

Today’s megacity is difficult to characterize, except by the large number of residents. The well-known image of a modern city (originally European or North American) is now long outdated. New megacities, such as Mexico City, have their own distinct character in which their extensive infrastructure is criss-crossed by small communities, colourful rituals and rural customs. Martin Roemers’ photos of street trading, ancient customs and vehicles set against the background of modern cars show a diversity of factors that illustrate the migration from rural to urban areas.

Roemers does not focus on the city’s urbanistic aspect, nor on popular tourist sites or monuments. Instead, he focuses on the human energy flows that make the city what it is. In the words of Baudelaire: ‘The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fish. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite...’[i] In contrast to the nineteenth century flâneur (saunterer), however, Roemers does not mingle with the crowd, but catches the movements from a higher perspective with a longer shutter speed. His focus on megacities creates the setting for his ultimate subject: the human condition in the contemporary city.

[i] P.E. Charvet (from The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, 1988, Viking).

© Martin Roemers