Listen to the audio version of the article
Rich and cheeky, sporty and clumsy, and then the tourists, many and everywhere, all with their noses in the air without a real destination. The “Martin Parr Short & Sweet” exhibition inspires smiles, fun and admiration in the visitor; created in collaboration with Magnum Photos, by 24Ore Cultura, is at Mudec in Milan until 30 June 2024 (24Ore Cultura catalogue); through reportage and documentary photography it presents the artistic itinerary of the English photographer with over 200 shots including 60 medium and small formats chosen and selected by the author himself and proposed together with an unpublished interview by the photography historian and critic Roberta Valtorta: a journey around the world traces the career of one of the most famous contemporary photographers.
The exhibition itinerary explores some of Parr’s major projects, his original documentary style becomes the other side of the coin of our society with its infinite contradictions, the countless statuses that the photographer reveals, without filters and outside rhetoric starting from the first works in black and white.
British, deeply British
It is the first thought that strikes the visitor, a humor so unique and unlikely in other great masters of photography who were not born and raised, like Martin Parr in London 72 years ago. An important debut in the 70s which marks the style of his photographs full of sarcasm and contrasting colours. His images are social reflections on the globalized society which, with his inevitable British humour, desecrates by touching on the myth of free time and the clichés that surround it. “You often learn more about the country you live in by going to a stand-up comedy show than by attending a sociologists’ conference,” Parr said recently.
Also on display is a selection of the “Common Sense” installation, with over 200 photographs in A3 format, among the 350 exhibited in the 1999 exhibition of the same name which explore the plasticized and tacky reality of the Western world.
Mischievous and intelligent
«I’m only interested in everyday life, my playground can be a beach or a supermarket. My job is to take photographs of people’s ordinary lives” says Martin Parr. With malice and intelligence he documents the wealthy and middle classes and the jet set; she is passionate about great luxury and so curious about chic: from London to Dubai to Miami, where a rich gentleman wears a reduced bathing suit, the American flag stands out on his bottom. Who knows how and why, but while Martin Parr frames a subject something suddenly always appears out of place, at least for us: a fly fixes itself on the protagonist’s forehead or nose, if a woman wears short socks with sandals she can be sure that the photographer will go to find it and immortalize it. The food photographed by Parr becomes repulsive, like the detail of a mouth attacking a hamburger wrapped in a napkin with Mickey Mouse’s face; in a black and white photo elegant women in suits, men in suits and ties let loose in front of a buffet. The Magnum photo agency is the most important in the world due to its history, founders and photographers it represents. Founded in 1947 by Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David Seymour, George Rodger, William Vandivert it was “a cooperative of talents” as they liked to define themselves. The history of the 20th and 21st centuries has passed through their photos, without their documentation we would have more easily forgotten the conflicts of the 20th century and the new millennium, their reportages are our memory. Yesterday Capa and Cartier-Bresson, today Magnum, among many, represents Martin Parr, a scathing and attentive connoisseur of our times.