When I first heard of Parr, I had major difficulty with what I felt was his attitude, somewhat along the lines of: "Popular culture is crass and tasteless - look at these pictures for evidence! Of course, although I [Parr] was also present at this crass and tasteless scene, I am myself not crass and tasteless because I have a) a camera and b) an ironical viewpoint!"
Originally Posted by bjorke
I felt this particularly with his early New Brighton series (pictures of working class mothers and children sitting on stone promenades surrounded by garbage at a beach in the Liverpool area). I met Parr at a 4-day workshop, he was an affable enough guy on a personal level. One of the things he did at the workshop was take out about 1,000 8x10" machine prints which he had had made of a recent shoot in Switzerland (a commission by a Swiss bank) and ask us for our views on how to edit them. He had concentrated on food on plates, among other things, and I told him that I felt he had made the error which non-German-speakers often make of thinking Switzerland is like Germany - I felt his work was superficial. He made it clear that he was not all that interested in the commission, only the fee, and that the client would accept whatever the art consultant told him was good! I was later amused to learn that Henri Cartier-Bresson was violently opposed to Parr joining Magnum because of MP's lack of human empathy!
To get back to Bjorke's quote: Notwithstanding my views on Parr, I think the picture I posted is a masterpiece. The kids are dressed in plastic, are looking at plastic and indeed have turned their backs on reality in favor of the plastic which they prefer. In no way is this a snapshot - it's much too clever - and if there is clutter, it's deliberate - the clutter of tourist junk is obscuring the historic buildings.
BUT - this picture makes its point so strongly that I can hardly see the need for any more (despite anything Parr may say). I am somewhat bemused that Parr has gone on for years and years making a major career out of saying "Popular culture is naff!" again and again and again