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When everyday life becomes art

by Archives September 14, 2005

If you’ve never wanted to take photographs in the pouring rain, perhaps listening to a lecture by British photographer Martin Parr would change your mind.

On Sept. 9, students and faculty members attended Parr’s lecture in H-110 of the Hall Building. Once there, audience members were exposed to a unique style of photography and imagery.

Born and raised in Epsom, Surrey in the UK, Martin Parr was taught and encouraged by his grandfather, who showed him how to expose film and make pictures. After studying photography at Manchester Polytechnic, Parr turned what was once a hobby into a full-blown passion and career. With a crisp British accent, Parr led the audience through a series of slides that showed his interests, ideas and progression as a photographer.

Much of Parr’s work is focused on the average, middle class, and mundane. At first glance, many critics would overlook his subjects’ artistic value. However, Parr finds their attraction and captures it in a way that makes many wonder how they could have missed it in the first place.

Currently, Parr is working on a project to photograph the very last parking space left in a lot. It teases the viewer, playing on the well- known frustration of seeing the spot you could have had if only you’d been there a bit earlier. When the project is finished it will showcase images of parking spaces in car parks on every continent, uniting each in worldwide mutual exasperation.

Other projects Parr has done include venturing to a town named Boring to shoot “Boring” things, taking pictures in the rain to capture a view that most people avoid, and images of strangely intriguing British food. When first described, these subjects seem a little odd, but audience members discovered that there’s so much more to each of Parr’s themes. Although most people don’t usually think of daily life as being something worth documenting, Parr’s eye sees the everyday as full of excitement and interest. It’s this view that makes his work so intriguing and thoughtful, while still being very artistic.

Parr’s work and approach to photography have been described as innovative and oblique and have garnered him an international reputation. He is versatile, covering many subjects and industries including advertising, fashion and film. Apart from his own work he is a professor of photography at the University of Wales, Newport Campus and a member of the Magnum Photographic Corporation.

As part of the Mois de la Photo de Montreal, Martin Parr will be showing his work at the Maison de Culture Frontenac. The show runs from Sept. 8 to Oct. 9.

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