Since 1995, when this “British Food” series originated, Parr has been capturing the delectable, the gross, the ridiculous, and the adorable in food and food consumption throughout the world. He never fails to identify the uniquely national qualities of various meats, sweets, and plates. This series represents the hallmark of his work, which has made him the most familiar and successful photographic artist in Europe. Every type of British food is paraded in front of his camera, from the famous Full English Breakfast, to the dainty tea scone, from mushy peas to Champagne at Ascot. Parr’s interest ranges from the high-brow to street food, equalizing it all with his unique style and sense of color.
He started taking photographs of food 25 years ago. At the time no one else was doing it because mobile telephones didn’t exist. He claims to have started started because he wanted to find another angle to his documenting photos, one that was less sad. And food seemed like a perfect solution.
In these photographs, Parr uses a flash that enhances the image, making everything look fake. When asked about this, he elaborated: “With this trend for food porn and glamorous cooking magazines, people post photos of food that don’t look anything like what we would normally eat every day. There are so many lies with the representations of food in our society. You just have to look at the seductive images on supermarket packaging. When you open up the box there’s a stark difference between what’s on the photo and what’s in front of you. As for the flash, it allows me to create fiction and entertainment out of reality, to give a sort of surrealism to cooking, and make it more beautiful and Interesting. I’m addicted to flashes and to its bright saturated colours, a bit like an alcoholic and his glass of wine.”
Martin Parr was born in Surrey, England, in 1952. He currently lives in Bristol, England. Parr is a member of the Magnum Agency, the most highly esteemed photo agency, founded in 1947 by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
This British documentary photographer has worked on many photographic projects throughout the world, resulting in many published books, ranging from Bad Weather; The Last Resort; The Cost of Living; Common Sense; Think of England; The Last Parking Space; Martin Parr: Objects. His work is exhibited and collected throughout the world. He recently launched the Martin Parr Foundation to preserve and promote documentary British photography. In March 2019, Parr will have a solo exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery.
British Food, Photographs by Martin Parr
Through January 16, 2019
Janet Borden, Inc.
91 Water Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201