Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Being Boring

Met the photographer Martin Parr tonight. He has a small exhibition on at Pekin Fine Arts and this evening gave a talk at Bookworm, neither of which we were involved with, but we’re talking about a bigger one in a year or so.
I love his work. I remember Boring Postcards when it came out in 2000. The publisher was reluctant to take it on and only printed 2,000. It’s now on its 20th or something reprint. He turns the mundane into something interesting, revels in kitsch and saturated colour, and both celebrates & pokes fun at middle class suburbia (a club in which he himself is a fully paid-up member).
He has published over 60 books, most of which he has co-designed. He is an obsessive collector, including 12,000 photography books which have spilled out of his Bristol house and into a warehouse. He also has, he thinks (and who are we to argue?), the world's largest collection of Saddam Hussein watches – that’s with the dead dictator's image on them, not those which once adorned his wrist. He’s now gone on to Gaddafi.
And he showed us an incredibly high-end production, limited edition book… of parking spaces around the world. So obsessed is he with documenting the trivia of everyday life, that one forgets he’s also a member of Magnum and actually gets commissioned to do more glamorous assignments – like fashion. If I was commissioning a fashion shoot, he’d be the last person I’d hire.


  1. Met him a couple of years ago when he opened his exhibition at Baltic, which included some of his collections as well as his photos. And who can forget the special Martin Parr chocolate bar?
    Did you know he used to work as a photographer at Butlins - which may explain a lot.
    His membership of Magnum wasn't without it's critics - mainly from Henri Cartier-Bresson no less!

  2. Yes, I heard his entry to Magnum took several attempts, eventually getting in by one vote.