In parallel with Martin Parr’s exhibition “Planète Parr” organised at the Jeu de
Paume in Paris from 30 June to 27 Septembre 2009, kamel mennour is pleased
to present “Playas”, the artist’s third solo exhibition at the gallery.
For the last thirty years, with his tender and secluded gaze, tinged with a hint
of irony and cynicism, Martin Parr has given us his oblique approach to social
documentation and his fascination with the fantastic elements of daily life and
the grotesqueness of the banal. From beneath the glossy surface of his photographs, the astuteness of his work shows through, subtly denouncing the
absurdity and vacuity of our consumerist society, the phenomena of globalisation, mass tourism, consumer behaviour, or so-called free time.
After “Think of England”, “Cocktail” and “Mexico”, Martin Parr has chosen to
display photographs he took between 2006 and 2007 on the beaches of 5
Latin American countries: Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina and Chile.
A veritable celebration of ways of life in coastal resorts, this brightly coloured
series humorously unmasks the cultural codes, the habits and posturing of beach
and seaside aficionados.
Thus we notice that while Mexicans prefer to drink beer and sodas, at Mar del
Plata in Argentina or at Punta del este, a coastal town in Uruguay, families
continue the ritual of maté – the plant infusion with stimulating effects
customarily drunk in the street – bringing with them their Thermos flasks and
“calabashes”. Likewise, whilst it is customary, on the beaches of Acapulco (in
Mexico) or Valparaiso (in Chile), to bathe in a t-shirt, on the beaches of Ipanema
or Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) the young ladies are happy to flaunt
their retouched beauty.
If beach life in each of these countries is marked by its own peculiarities, we
cannot fail to notice the how many features these images share: the
indispensable accessories (sunglasses, hats, towels, parasols, iceboxes and
sunloungers) spread out on the fine sand, and the incessant parade of pedlars
haranguing the crowds, offering them a wide variety of snacks, doughnuts, icecreams,
drinks, sodas and every kind of souvenir.
“Playas” has been turned into a book published by Chris Boot, its graphic
illustrations mimicking the small South American printing-houses that specialise
in cheap novels.
Born in 1952 in Epsom in Surrey, England, Martin Parr is one of the most active
and dynamic of contemporary photographers.
Since the 1980s, he has published around fifty books and had his work
exhibited all over the world: at Chicago’s Musem of Contemporary Art; at
Vancouver’s House Gallery; in Paris at the Maison Européenne de la
Photographie, the Jeu de Paume and the Centre Pompidou; at Mannheim’s
Kunsthalle, as well as the Kunsthalle in Rotterdam; in London’s Barbican Art
Gallery and Tate Modern; at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid; at the Seoul
Arts Centre; at Tokyo’s Metropolitan Museum of Photography; at Stockholm’s
Kulturhuset; at Munich’s Haus der Kunst and at Zurich’s Museum für Gestaltung