Photographer Martin Parr captures the British soul in the countdown to Brexit | Arts | DW | 07.03.2019
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Photographer Martin Parr captures the British soul in the countdown to Brexit

What stirs in the British soul as Brexit approaches? Martin Parr's photos of his compatriots are now on display at London's National Portrait Gallery under the title "Only Human."

Euphoric night-owls, freezing swimmers at a winter lake, or merrily celebrating immigrants: 66-year-old Martin Parr likes to photograph fellow Britons in an unposed, almost ruthless way. That's probably why, as he once told the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, he has obtained more renown and successful in France and Germany. The reason: "In both countries there is a certain glee about how England can be seen in my pictures," he said.

These now also accompany Brexit: Parr has captured fleeting snapshots on the record. Here, the queue winds towards an ice cream truck in the middle of a barren beach, there, young homosexuals dance uninhibited in a men's club. Or a skinhead dips his nose into the blossom of a rose. They are ironic, but always affectionate glimpses of the habits and oddities of his compatriots.

Martin Parr | The Perry Family (Martin Parr/Magnum Photos/Rocket Gallery)

'The Perry Family'

Documenting British everyday culture

Many feel provoked, because the artist also doesn't hold back from cliches. Even more: Parr also captures the ugly, which is usually retouched. And so his works stand out from ordinary photographic art. Outgrowths of mass tourism, the aging and winking portraits of "simple" people as well as representatives of the nobility are his specialty. Parr is considered the most prominent documentary photographer of British everyday culture.

Martin Parr, born in 1952, studied photography in Manchester in the early 1970s. For many years, the Englishman has worked for the famous photo agency Magnum, and is renowned as one of the British documentary photographers who revolutionized the genre.

The exhibition "Only Human" is on show in the London National Portrait Gallery until May 27, 2019.

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