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Underground movement: Martina Ferrera’s photograph Immersed, 2021

Jan-Carlos Kucharek

The photographer developed a love of the subterranean when living and working in Toronto – is that what prompted her to send us her shot of AHMM’s basement office?

Martina Ferrera Immersed, 2021 Sony A7RIV with Canon 50mm tilt shift lens.
Martina Ferrera Immersed, 2021 Sony A7RIV with Canon 50mm tilt shift lens.

Having studied her under- and post-graduate architecture degrees in Rome, with an interim year in Paris, Italian-Canadian Martina Ferrera’s move to Toronto’s cooler clime to study architectural photography might seem strange if it weren’t her birthright. But, working there for several years afterwards, she grew to enjoy waking for shoots in the cold, dark, early hours and catching the dawn on the city’s yawning skies, open to the vastness of Lake Ontario.

With Rome and Paris as her precedents, Ferrera seems understandably underwhelmed with the city’s modern nature, saving her fascination for Toronto’s Path, the tunnel system beneath the city centre that connects offices with shops with car parks, obviating the need for residents to brave the elements during Canada’s notoriously bone-chilling winters. With the first tunnel opening in 1900, successive extensions in the 1960s and 70s created a 30km network connecting 70 buildings – not least Mies van der Rohe’s six-tower Toronto Dominion Centre; all, naturally, linking to 372,000m2 of retail.

Perhaps a subconscious link of Toronto’s Path with the psychogeographical catacombs of her own culture led Ferrera to select her image of AHMM’s new Old St offices – a bunker set into the basement of its own White Collar Factory, nestling unseen alongside Northern Line tunnels. Here in this top lit world, it is only the tracking of sun deep into the double height hall that gives any sense of time passing, sparking fuse-like where its beams strike the cadmium yellow floor.