Martin Parr: Mexico
For much of his career, Martin Parr has specialized in skewering the eccentricities and peculiarities of his native Great Britain--in particular those having to do with food, tourism, bad fashion choices and more food. "Mexico" is Parr's first new thematic series to be published in book form since 2002, a distinct geographical departure, and in part a greater departure as well. Parr is struck not only by Mexican culture, but also by the clear impact of America's pop culture and economy on Mexican life--the juxtaposition of Mickey Mouse with brightly colored saints, Nike logos with Day of the Dead skulls and Coca Cola with cacti. Here viewers are in recognizable territory with Parr's colorful close-ups of food, hats, signs and souvenirs, garishly shot with medical efficiency--but "Mexico" also includes some straight records of human faces, images that capture photographer and subject in the act of mutual contemplation. These moments of mercy are one with the underlying theme of Parr's more ironic work, calling up equally the corruption of authentic cultural forms by global consumer culture, which he both critiques and celebrates. As Parr puts it, "What I am saying is that it's a good "and" a bad thing. I'm constantly trying to express ambiguity. And that's what photography does very well."
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