Martin Parr's Lockdown Life

We've been catching up with the stars of Phaidon books and finding out what they've been doing all day
Share
Martin Parr in his bathroom May 2020
Martin Parr in his bathroom May 2020

“Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all scanning culture continuously for things that validate us,” writes Grayson Perry in the introduction to our most recent Martin Parr book Only Human. “The kind of experiences that chime with how we already feel and reinforce who we think we are."

That's probably more true at the moment than ever before. Which is why we've been asking our Phaidon creatives, authors and stars to tell us a bit about how they've been coping with the last few weeks. 

Who better to start with than Martin Parr, a photographer who frames anthropological observations in a photographic language we can all understand - whatever part of the planet we're exiled in. 

 

Tenby, Wales, 2018, by Martin Parr. One of the photographer's Collector's Edition prints
Tenby, Wales, 2018, by Martin Parr. One of the photographer's Collector's Edition prints
 

“Perhaps what I sensed in those photographs from the off was an ambivalence about the subjects that I shared," said Grayson Perry of Parr's work. "I look at those images of county ladies stuffing their faces, tourists trapped in clichés, ridiculous fanatics, drunken revellers and the jolly grim working classes, and they all seem to be hovering uncomfortably between comedy and tragedy. Humour bleeds through all these photographs, but also compassion. ‘How dare you take yourself seriously?’ they say, but then ‘Let’s celebrate that impulse’ – in a quietly bonkers, British way, naturally."

 

Preparing lobster pots, Newlyn Harbour, Cornwall, England, 2018, by Martin Parr
Preparing lobster pots, Newlyn Harbour, Cornwall, England, 2018, by Martin Parr

As we inch closer towards a time when we can celebrate again, Britain's most accomplished visual chronicler of the human condition lets us know what he's been up to these last few weeks.

"I have been busy catching up with all the archiving that has been delayed. I have been shooting the new style of queueing we have and also created masks for the Martin Parr Foundation. Now that I can legally travel I am looking forward to shooting the new social distancing out in public places," he says.

 

Kentucky Derby, Louisville, USA, 2015 by Martin Parr. One of the photographer's Collector's Edition prints

And that last sentence alone should be cause of optimism. Parr is, after all, an equal opportunities satirist. As Grayson perry said in our book .....“One of the first things I asked him is something I’m sure other people must wonder: ‘How do you get away with taking some of these photographs?’ If I saw Martin striding purposefully towards me with a camera, I would be tempted to run." 

If we saw Martin striding towards us now, expecially in that mask, we think we'd run too. Towards him. Check out Only Human: Photographs by Martin Parr in the store here.

 
 
 

Related



ABOUT PHAIDON

Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
Read more