Inside Martin Parr's ONLY HUMAN exhibition. Tea, cake, and Martin Parr flip flops.

July 25, 2019 posted by

hey everyone I had two things planned in London last Sunday one was cancelled when I was standing at the railway station and the other was cancelled when I was on the train heading to London however there are far worse places to be traveling to without any plans I'll surprise you I had my camera with me I thought it might take some pictures around town walking past the National Portrait Gallery I saw that the new Martin Parr exhibition had just opened so it decided to pay a visit my short review not that this is really a review is that it was absolutely wonderful it made my day and will inspire me for many years to come it was imaginative ridiculous funny and most of all fun it's the first photography exhibition that I've been to there wasn't simply a collection of reverently framed photographs of various sizes on white walls on entering the exhibition you are faced with a large collection of Martin's self-portraits they are a perfect introduction is often deadpan expression looks back at you from dozens of funny garish compositions he's a good ambassador for his work a kind of unlikely celebrity normal whatever that is and renowned too throughout the gallery there are rooms dedicated to celebrity to dance to tennis and to the so-called British establishment with pictures of the Queen and former Prime Minister David Cameron featuring the photo of the Queen reminded me of Enric Artie press-ons 1937 photos of the coronation of King George the sixth instead of photographing the king he turned his camera to the British public martin palace photo simile plays down the monarch we don't see her face but of course we can see the British public I guess in summary the theme of the show is that these people regardless of their celebrity or class are only human some accompanying text on a wall suggested he photographed all of these people in much the same way these humans are of course divided and categorized as celebrity or not after the fact and even divided by the walls of the exhibition itself mixing the subjects throughout the rooms might have appeared more democratic but it wouldn't have been as fun after all these categories are very real at least in the minds of the British the room of celebrity portraits made me reflect on my own life as a photographer it was strange seen two portraits of people that I had photographed myself authors Sadie Smith and Alain de Botton it made me proud of what I've done but so eager to get out and photograph new people and new places I love taking environmental portraits and this inspired me to do much more of that I've not previously spent too much time evaluating Martin Powers work but I feel I need to have at least a few words to say about it it often feels quite light-hearted it dwells on the silly and busy active living rather than death his British subjects are living their lives dancing queuing sunbathing and very often posing to have their photograph taken it's funny that when they are photographed individually or posed in small groups they feel like they have been paused just momentarily like the people in the short BBC video segments he made the people had gathered briefly for a picture but then dispersed after the interlude of having their photograph taken back to their lives and back to what they were doing I loved the William Eggleston portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery a few years ago his subjects seemed more pensive with a darker more serious look taken at them Eccleston's are often but not always snapshots presented first and foremost as art pars are more formal pictures presented more lightheartedly as entertainment I don't know where that leads me to feel I guess I'm fond of melancholy and if it's in Pass affectionate studies he doesn't make a feature out of it one room of the exhibition is a little cafe selling Battenberg cake lemon cake and tea I should put on record that it was one of the best cups of tea I've ever had no question however the lemon cake was a little on the dry side I hope to show that the art critic in me is not afraid to confront the big issues I'll just keep saying it as I see it as I drank my masterpiece of a cup of tea the Martin Parr directed picture boys video London played in the corner again and again lastly I'll say that I would have paid to have gone into the gift shop but don't tell the gallery that it set a dangerous precedent here Martin really has fun with the merchandise you can buy Martin power pin badges Martin power beach balls t-shirts and flip-flops I regret not buying the salted caramel chocolate bar but I'm proud I resisted the temptation and walked away without any Martin power socks perhaps I should have bought the book I wonder if the fun and experience of the exhibition might even distract from the work itself perhaps I'm a little childlike in my experiencing of it I was just filled with a genuine and unexpected happiness that serious photography could be presented this way I would happily visit again and will definitely buy the book next time and of course the chocolate – thanks for watching everyone feel free but under no pressure at all – subscribe to my channel for more photography videos I'll see you in the next one


9 Replies to “Inside Martin Parr's ONLY HUMAN exhibition. Tea, cake, and Martin Parr flip flops.”

  1. KottaKitty says:

    This video was very peaceful and insightful! Thank you for making it x

  2. Peter Taranscorsese says:

    I visited the exhibition a few days ago and without doubt, rate it as the best photographic exhibition I’ve ever attended. I knew of Martin Parr before, which is why I went, but I hadn’t appreciated the depth of his work and skill of his observation… made me laugh, cry and just “feel good”. The video Idents he shot for the BBC are shown “back to back” on a video screen and watching those one after the other really makes you appreciate his skill and unique style – just a shame they didn’t fill the whole wall with it. Nice video and observations too – thanks – Peter.

  3. Pablo Tenkara says:

    In a world overpopulated with specs, your videos are refreshingly sincere. Suscribed!

  4. Eirik says:

    i always wonder why we need ISO6400, 12800, etc. nowadays when all these great photos were mostly taken with ASA50, 100, 400 film…

  5. MikeHermesPhotography says:

    I said it before and I will say it again, your videos are awesome Chris !

  6. Scott Katzenoff says:

    Wonderful retrospective, as.always😏

  7. Launay Pierre-Yves says:

    Thanks. I really love your vidéos.

  8. Allysse Riordan says:

    I really enjoyed your exhibition review, you made me want to check the exhibition out. I'll definitely watch more of those exhibition review videos if you want to do more.

  9. Milan Petrovic says:

    Martin Parr is an absolute legend! Great coverage of the exhibition!

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