Parr is known for his satirical documentation of British contemporary life; capturing a range of social demographics he offers a colourful social panorama of Britain today unmasking the banal and the offbeat with his wry look at class and wealth. Many of his images appear exaggerated and yet they are inventive and often humorous using colour and motif to great effect. For more than 30 years, Parr has been documenting society and everyday culture initially in Britian and Ireland but later across the world, taking in global phenomena such as mass tourism, consumerism, social and cultural events.
For his new series Luxury, Parr shows the different ways in which people display their wealth. Choosing various locations across the world, and a range of situations including art fairs and race courses, including Newcastle’s premier horse racing event The Northumbrian Plate, he has selected scenarios in which people are comfortable showing off their wealth. Designer clothes, champagne and parties are all part of this repertoire. As well as the more established wealth hot spots in Europe and America, there are photographs from the emerging world, for example showing the Millionaires’ Fair in Moscow, the Dubai Art Fair and the Motor Show in Beijing. At such events the international jet-set can be observed as they proudly present the regalia of new money and opulence The notion of collecting is fundamental to Parrworld as we are presented with not only Parr’s own photography but also a remarkable selection of photographic works from internationally recognised artists, books taken from his several-thousand strong library and a collection of personal items collected from his international and UK travels.
An extraordinary collection of photographs has been brought together for the exhibition, exemplifying Parr’s respect and admiration for his peers. Presented here are works by UK photographers Jill Constantine, Paul Graham and Richard Billingham. There are several with North East associations; Chris Killip whose 1980s images of Tyneside endure, the photographer Graham Smith with his images of Teeside as well as current Newcastle based artist, Mark Neville. These are shown alongside works from highly respected international photographers such as the South African, David Goldblatt, William Eggleston, (US) Frank Breuer (Germany) Gary Winogrand, (US) Bernd and Hilla Becher (Germany).
Alongside the photography Parr shows, through his often quirky collections of postcards and personally collected objects, his real individual flair as an inveterate collector whose fascination for the peculiar and the curious are displayed. This assortment of commercial design and memorabilia documents key historical and political moments with original posters and leaflets from the 1984 UK miners strike, a collection of commemorative china from Margaret Thatcher’s term as Prime Minister, examples of prayer mats featuring the New York Twin Towers, a bizarre range of Saddam Hussein watches and his most recent collection of Barack Obama ephemera.
For this exhibition Parr will act as a photographer, collector and curator as Parrworld offers an entertaining yet serious analysis of photography as a contemporary medium.
This exhibition is organized by Haus der Kunst, Munich in association with the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.