“In the world of photography, if you want to start an argument, just mention the 55-year-old English photo-documentarist Martin Parr.”
Thus began an article in the Sunday Times three years ago, and these words remain accurate today. As one of my favourite photographers, or more precisely photo-documentarist, Parr attempts to capture the oddities, realities and social travesties of modern life- as the description on his website he is “the chronicler of our age”. I love Parr’s photos for their cynicism, sense of humour (British obviously) and their almost cruel honesty. If Parr was a lawyer, he would be brilliant as looking at the photos you can almost picture an argument building about the dangers of mass consumerism or the unnecessary extravagance of the super-rich. While at times, Parr ventures to the point of being “a heartlessly cynical smartarse”, I find Parr’s efforts to unmask uncomfortable truths and penetrate the details and values behind the way we live our lives, unnerving and impressive.
His photos with their garish colours, unflattering perspectives and culture-driven content, at first appear as nothing much. My first thoughts of his collection Small World, was that they were badly-taken shots from holiday. However, after examining them further you notice that they are not entirely as they seem, and that behind the glare of these intimate images, there lies a deeper message or, as Parr describes it, “propaganda”. Propaganda that makes you re-evaluate the familiar and even recognise yourself with their content. It is therefore with immense interest that I discovered his blog and I’ll keep you further posted with what Parr mutterings I unveil here!