Martin Parr’s work throughout the years shows his development from being a documentary photographer who is focused on the ordinariness of life, how people behave and decorate their places to focusing mainly on the behaviour of people in the first world that we are all guilty of and resent. He shows different classes and backgrounds, but through the use of colour and flash and zooming in on particularities, draws the viewers attention to the elements that bind us as human beings.
At a certain point Parr claims: ‘I love the part that my work is surrounded by hypocracy and prejudice.’ I think with this he means that he is criticizing, actually exploiting, a culture and way of living that he is part of himself. Through his choice of subject, photographic techniques and timing he really knows to show people at their worst, emphasizing prejudices that may already exist about his subjects.
When I saw Parr’s work in a exhibition in Paris for the first time 3 years ago, I remember thinking exactly the same. He showed a very shallow, prejudiced part of Parisians, which I found quite hypocrite indeed. Looking at his work now and listening to his explanation I notice a difference in my own attitude. Maybe it is through showing the extremes of ourselves, that we can become more open minded in how we look at others as well. On the other hand, if a viewer is not very self reflective, the images may just enforce already existing prejudices and hypocrisy. So it is a bit tricky indeed.
Martin Parr: Photographic Works 1971 – 2000. (2003). 1st ed. [ebook] Bradfort, pp.1-15. Available at: https://docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=http://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/oca-content/key-resources/res-files/parr.pdf [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].
YouTube. (2017). Martin Parr [part 1]. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJinAgBYaLs [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].