Just over a century ago 13% of the world was urban. The United Nations predicts that 75 percent of the global population – close to six billion people – are expected to be concentrated in cities by the year 2050. The UN has also designated that 28 of these cities now meet their threshold of a ‘megacity’: defined as those cities with more than 10 million inhabitants.
Globally, one in eight of us now live in a megacity and by 2030, it is predicted that there will be forty-one of these megacities around the world. Fascinated by the sense of positive energy amidst the chaos in these centres of exploding population, Martin Roemers created his spectacular series, Metropolis, travelling to 22 megacities, across five continents observing the sense of city as spectacle
Roemers captures not only the scale, pace and immediacy of this new urban reality, but also gives us a glimmer of insight into the massive infrastructures needed to keep these colossal hubs of humanity moving and producing. His imagery reveals complexities about how enormous populations function and thrive. Roemers conveys not only the energy of these megacities, he also reveals individuals living there through his atmospheric compositions taken with long exposure times.
Working painstakingly with an analogue camera, Roemers employs the gift of time and patience, careful studying each composition in order to illustrate human resilience and the ingenuity required to combat endlessly complex issues, such as the shrinking amount of space available per person to exist in, the vast economic needs of these large populations, not to mention vital access to clean water and sanitation, or how to keep transportation infrastructures up and running in these sprawling centres and ultimately, how to feed all of these millions of people and educate them. Roemers allows us to see these megacities as they are, complex and fragile metabolisms that support and sustain all walks of human life.
Metropolis comprises 85 photographs of 22 megacities: Beijing, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Dhaka, Guangzhou, Istanbul, Jakarta, Karachi, Kolkata, Lagos, London, Los Angeles, Manila, Mexico City, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo.
“Roemers created pictures that convey not only the mass and energy of megacities but also the humanity of the individuals living in them.”
–The New Yorker
Works from this project are included in the Collections of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.