More people live in cities than ever before. According to the United Nations, over half of the world’s citizens now live in an urban area—a figure expected to reach nearly 70 percent by 2050. Globally, one in eight of those city dwellers lives in a megacity, defined by the UN as a place with more than 10 million people.
Fascinated by 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, how to keep transportation infrastructures up and running in these sprawling centres and how to feed all of these millions of people. Roemers allows us to see these megacities as they are, complex and fragile metabolisms that support and sustain all walks of human life.
Metropolis (2007-2015) 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.
Book publication: ‘Metropolis’ (Hatje Cantz Publishers)
Works from this project are included in the Collections of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.
“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