Photographer's Profile: Martin Parr
Martin Parr (b. 1952) is a British photo journalist and documentary photographer whose CV includes 80 exhibitions and 50 published books. First recognized for his black and white work, he switched to colour in the mid-80's. The Last Resort (1986), Parr's photo essay documenting a shabby seaside resort in New Brighton, was berated by some critics as "cruel" and lauded by others as a stunning satire.
In the early 90's Parr pointed his camera at English suburbia in Signs of the Times: A Portrait of the Nation's Tastes(1992). In this series he reveals the kitschy, dismally mundane interiors of the British middle class which brought the same observations from audiences as his previous work. These images, while sometimes verging on the depressing, reveal Parr's dry humour towards his native country. This sentiment is visible throughout his other works. Bored Couples (1993) is a classic example as well as his collections Boring Photographs (2000) and Boring Postcards (2000).
Ring-flashes, macro lenses and highly saturated colours also help to magnify the garishness of his subject matter. Not that he hasn't turned the camera on himself.Autoportrait (2000) offers up all the tourist portraits that Parr posed for on his travels around the world. These "self-portraits" are teeming with irony but also reveal a certain fondness for the tackiness of it all. Personally I'd like to think that Parr's photographs are not meant to be a vicious attack on modern British culture but maybe a just gentle poking-fun.
"Parr's work brings photojournalism into the realm of art, and his special gift lies in his ability to focus an unflinching eye on everyday life in all its banal absurdity and pretension." ~ Robert Ayers, ARTINFO