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ROSPHOTO: State Museum and Exhibition Centre for Photography opens Martin Parr's 'Life's a Beach'
Benidorm, Spain. 1997. © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos.


SAINT-PETERSBURG.- Within the framework of Russia-UK Year of Culture 2014 the State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSPHOTO presents an exhibition 'Life's a beach' by Martin Parr, one of the most well-known British photographers, an author of a unique documentary photo style. The display shows Parr at his best, surprising us with the moments of caught absurdity and constantly enjoying the rituals and traditions associated with beach life, the world over. The exhibition contains 56 photographs from the collection of the first photographic cooperative Magnum Photos, whose full member Martin Parr has been since in 1994.

'In the UK, it is impossible to be more than 75 miles away from the coast, and with this much seaside it is not surprising that there is a strong tradition of shooting photos on the beach in Britain. People can relax, be themselves and show off all those traces of mildly eccentric behaviour associated with the country. In the States there is a strong tradition of street photography, in the UK, we have the beach', - says Martin Parr.

Martin Parr has been photographing this subject over many decades, documenting all aspects of this tradition including close ups of sun bathers, swimming dips and picnics. Parr’s International career was kicked started with his notorious book of 1986, The Last Resort, which depicted the run down seaside resort of New Brighton, very near Liverpool. However less well known is that this obsession has also spread across the world, and with this new compilation we see photos from countries as far apart as China, Argentina and Thailand. This exhibition demonstrates Parr engagement with a cherished subject matter, where all absurdities and quirky National behaviours seamlessly fuse together. We delight in how different countries in Latin America have a wildly different dress sense on the beach, from the skimpy costumes of Brazil to the drinking of mate of Uruguay. There is also, of course, the selling of goods, for the beach is a prime place to sell, well basically anything, from the services of an ear cleaner in Goa, India, the barbequed fish of Chile and pot noodles in China.

Martin Parr was born in 1962 in Epsom, Surrey, UK. As a boy, his interest in photography was encouraged by his grandfather George Parr, himself a keen amateur photographer. Parr studied photography at Manchester Polytechnic from 1970 to 1973. To support his career as a freelance photographer, he took on various teaching assignments between 1975 and the early 1990s. At the beginning of the 1980s his work aimed to mirror the lifestyle of ordinary British people, reflecting the social decline and distress of the working class during the era of Margaret Thatcher. He earned an international reputation for his oblique approach to social documentary, and for innovative imagery. In 1994 he became a member of Magnum after much heated debate over his provocative photographic style.

For Parr, the moral atrophy and preposterousness of our daily lives means we can only find salvation through adopting a certain sense of humor. The banality, boredom and lack of meaning of modern times are portrayed in works such as Bored Couples and Common Sense. In 2002 Phaidon published the Martin Parr monograph. Parr was appointed Professor of Photography at The University of Wales Newport campus from 2004 to 2012. In 2013, Martin was appointed visiting Professor of Photography at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. In recent years, he has developed an interest in film-making, and has started to use his photography in different contexts, such as fashion and advertising.





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