Title: American Testimony
Photographer: Peter Martens
Author: Renate Dorrestijn
Publisher: Post Editions
Dutch photographer Peter Martens (1937-1992) was a versatile street photographer. His way of working was inspired by the long American tradition of engaged and personal documentary photography, but he went one step further and developed into a radical photographer who took a stand for the disadvantaged and outcast. Tirelessly he captured world's injustice and bad luck millions of people suffer from, fixed in confrontational, grainy images. In his photographs from the seventies and early eighties, Bogotá, Bangkok, Calcutta, Hong Kong and Ouagadougou were the worst places on earth. Closer to home, he showed the blind faith of believers seeking redemption and forgiveness.
When Martens explored America in the beginning of the seventies, it became his domain: the country where he found the subjects on a large scale that obsessed him as photo journalist. His matter was the everyday war in the street, the news that is no news but daily reality for countless people. Life in the States, Martens indicated, could be just as ruthless as living in dictatorships or developing countries.