Thursday, October 17, 2019

"I just show things as I find them"

Having seen Martin Parr's Return To Manchester in April, it was a very pleasant surprise to discover that his next exhibition will be rather closer to home - Martin Parr In Wales opens at the National Museum in Cardiff on 26th October.

Judging by the comments Parr made in a recent interview with the Guardian's Stephen Moss, the title is just right. Unlike, for instance, Glenn Edwards' Route A47zero that I've recently written about, the show is not the coherent result of a concerted effort to "capture" Wales: "They're just pictures that happen to have been taken in Wales, and therefore by default are a portrait or interpretation of the country. There are places that aren't represented, but that's the point really. These are the pictures I've come across."

Parr spoke to Moss about gaining access to Magnum despite fierce opposition from some of its most famous members (including co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson) and his fondness for humour ("The world is funny, let's face it, and people are funny"). Particularly interesting was the explanation he gave for his obsession with photographing food - "We're being fed these lies constantly about how the world is represented" - which would equally stand as a pithy summary of the thesis behind his book on global tourism, Small World, which repeatedly underlines the disparity between myth and reality. I should add that until I read Moss' article I had no idea Parr was responsible for the BBC idents depicting various groups of enthusiasts momentarily freezing for the camera.

Moss notes that Tony Ray-Jones was a major influence on Parr's choice of subject matter and style, so it's fitting that not only has a Martin Parr Foundation exhibition of Ray-Jones' work just opened in Bristol, but that the Guardian have also published a gallery of his photos. I shouldn't really need an excuse to make a visit to the Foundation, but this certainly seems like a good one.

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