用幽默關心世界 Martin Parr: Caring for the World with Humor

Updated: Mar 20, 2018

At Christmastime, there is plenty of Christmas cheer. Holidays, vacations, feasts and other such key words are linked to notions of joy and happiness for all. When I was young, Christmas meant dinners and drinks with friends, and cracking jokes at each other’s expense. But later, when I had my own career and my own family, when things grew more stable, collecting artworks with humour instead became the outlet for my mischievous side .


Martin Parr, Last Resort, 2014.
Martin Parr, Small World, published by Dewi Lewis, 1995.

Speaking of fascinating art, my thoughts are drawn to a photographer I quite like, Martin Parr, who people often call Uncle Martin. The briskness of his work fits with the rhythms of Christmas. This British photographer, born in 1952, became a member of the prestigious Magnum Photos in 1994, but he was met with skepticism and opposition from other members at first, because his work is often quite satirical. Capturing other people’s awkward moments was just too pedestrian, and making fun of easily-offended groups was not in keeping with Magnum’s classic, staid style. But by 2014, at the agency’s 67th Annual General Meeting, he was chosen by his fellow members to become the new president, and hailed as a leader for the new generation.

說起玩味,我會想到一位喜歡的攝影藝術家——人稱馬丁叔叔的Martin Parr。他作品中的輕快感,和聖誕節的節奏相當相似。這位生於 1952 年的英國攝影師,早在1994年成為權威攝影社 Magnum Photos 的成員,但當時遭到部分成員的質疑與反對,因為他的照片經常充滿嘲諷的幽默感,拍攝別人的狼狽和尷尬是家常便飯,時不時開一些冒犯別人的玩笑,與 Magnum Photos 一貫的經典沉穩氣質不同。不過,到了2014年,他在馬格南圖片社第六十七屆全體成員高峰論壇上,被成員們投票選為新總裁,被認為是與時俱進的新時代領頭人。

Martin Parr: Children Eat Ice Cream on the Seafront, New Brighton, England (from the Last Resort), 1985
Martin Parr, ‘Lennon’s Supermarket’ (Prescot Now and Then), 1984.
Martin Parr, Bored Couples, published by Agnes B./ Galerie Du Jour, 1993.

He may have chosen a humorous artistic language, but he is just as concerned about the fate of humanity. The 1993 series Bored Couples is a collection of couples and families with listless expressions, even if they were really just distracted for a moment. The 2015 Milan Expo invited him to create a series about coffee. Oops… Chocolate! starts with cocoa bean cultivation in Ghana and explores every aspect of chocolate in urban life. This calls to mind the work of Ghanaian contemporary artist Ibrahim Mahama, which explores themes of commodification, immigration and the globalized econonomy.

雖然選擇了幽默的藝術語言,但他同樣關懷人類的共同命運呢。1993年的《無聊夫婦》系列,集中了許多看似眼神渙散、無精打采的夫妻或者一家三口(儘管他們也許當時只是偶爾走神而已);2015年,米蘭世博會邀請他創作了與咖啡有關的系列,他取名為《哎呀……巧克力!》(Oops… Chocolate!),從加納的可可豆種植拍起,一直關注到巧克力在都市生活中的各個方面,令人想起另一位加納當代藝術家Ibrahim Mahama的作品,探索原材料被商品化的過程、移民及全球化經濟課題。

Martin Parr, British Food, published by Agnes B./Gallery du Jour, 1995.
Martin Parr, 7 Cups of Tea, published by Nazraeli Press, 2012.

When it comes to candid photography, Martin Parr says, “If you’re out there long enough, you’re going to earn some luck.” He’s been out there quite some time, and that’s part of why he’s so prolific. His work is not the same as documentary photography, as it often mixes fact with fiction, but by bringing those together, he forms a different “truth” of social life. In our post-truth era, perhaps this is our best weapon against fake truth. Looking back, this perseverance just might be what allowed him to bring change to the agency.


Martin Parr, Grand Paris, 2014.
Martin Parr, Autoportrait, 2015.