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
“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.
“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."
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.
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.