Guy Martin on fashion’s front lines

The British photojournalist takes his documentary eye to the 91st edition of Pitti Uomo

Photographs by Guy Martin
Text by Elizabeth Breiner

Over the last ten years, photojournalist Guy Martin has been drawn back repeatedly to various regions in the Middle East, exploring governments and societies in transition, and issues related to youth and technology. Known for his powerful coverage of the revolutions that swept through the Middle East and North Africa in 2011, an interest in addressing the performativity of his increasingly media-conscious subjects and re-evaluating the idea of the ‘authentic’ moment was sparked by his coverage of Turkey’s 2013 ’social media revolution’ and has remained an essential element of his documentary work ever since.

Here, on the occasion of the 91st edition of Pitti Uomo, Martin brings his discerning eye to the world of professional models, the most performative subjects of all — controlled and self-aware by trade, and perpetually camera-ready, a state that undoubtedly exacerbated by the now ubiquitous eye of the smartphone.

In the resulting images, he manages to frequently capture his subjects in fleeting moments of unguarded contemplation, their faces primed for the runway, but their eyes turned inward, suggestive of inaccessible interior depths. Throughout, a certain sinister beauty prevails, compounded by dramatic lighting, the models’ practiced avoidance of anything resembling a smile, and the sense of their complete submission to being primped, prodded, and generally acted upon, like prized puppets in the hands of their puppeteers. The strangeness of the ritual is stylistically brought to the fore; decontextualized, many of the images could just as easily be a continuation of Martin’s work on the corrupt, fear-mongering political state of contemporary Turkey.

This work is made possible by an ongoing collaboration between nineteensixtyeight and Pitti Immagine. A selection of images will also be featured in an online exhibition by Pitti Discovery.

Pitti Uomo is one of the preeminent men’s fashion events, taking place biannually in Florence, Italy and showcasing the latest collections from cutting-edge, contemporary designers.

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