MARTIN PARR — A Photographic Journey. Exhibition at Kunst Haus Wien
Project info

I accept that all photography is voyeuristic and exploitative, and obviously I live with my own guilt and conscience.
– Martin Parr

KUNST HAUS WIEN presents the first comprehensive retrospective on the world famous British photographer Martin Parr in Austria. The exhibition provides a profound insight into Parr’s oeuvre.

Parr, who has been totally committed to color photography since 1982, directs our view to the rather odd and absurd aspects of everyday life and exposes these, often resulting in the amusement of the viewers.
KUNST HAUS WIEN commissioned Martin Parr with a new group of
works on Vienna which will be on view for the first time in this exhibition.

Thirteen large work complexes including the legendary series Last Resort (1985), Bored Couples (1990–1993), Common Sense (1995–1999) and Luxury (2007–2011) are evidence of Martin Parr’s incessant photographic interest in different groups of the society and their particularities.
Parr’s pictures are infused with a distinct humour and are incredibly direct. Based on his sharp photographic eye, a colorful aesthetic and the principle to show the world as it is, he has developed his unmistakable style.

Martin Parr, born in Great Britain in 1952, started his career as a photographer in the 1970s. Benefiting from a generally growing interest in photography, also in photography as an art form, he became internationally known in the mid-1980s for a series of British beach holiday scenes (Last Resort).
His “terribly beautiful pictures”, often taken with flash and characterized by their rich colorfulness, have since inspired a large number of photographers in the fields of documentary or fashion photography and have influenced the pictorial language of contemporary journals such as Vice Magazine or other pop culture magazines.

Martin Parr deliberately directs his camera at the unspectacular, the commonplace, the normal, at things that at first glance do not seem worthy of being captured in a photograph. His dissecting
gaze reveals in an honest and unflattering way the excesses of the consumer society.
His photos exhibit our consumer and recreational behavior: people shopping in the supermarket, dancing in the disco or at a noble ball, sunbathing at the beach (until their skins go bright red), sitting silently wrapped fast food or a schnitzel hanging flabbily over the edge of the plate.
Glittering fingernails, colored plastic toys, curios (such as watches with Saddam Hussein’s face on them) and knick-
knacks attract Parr’s attention.
These photographs provide an immediate and brutally honest picture of the very heart of society and are visual witnesses of our way of life. They may well be entertaining, but all the same they show the disproportionality of the so-called First World, mass tourism, wastage, the lack of sustainability.

“Viennese soul” between schnitzel, allotment idyll and imperial splendor

On the invitation of KUNST HAUS WIEN Martin Parr stayed in Vienna twice in the past months in order to take photos of the local “customs”. The pictures taken in the Austrian capital city are
presented under the title “Cakes and Balls” (2015/2016).
For this purpose Parr visited traditional places in Vienna full of clichés like the Prater, the legendary Strandbad Gänsehäufel, a Heuriger, numerous cafés and restaurants, allotments, seven Viennese balls and the production facility of the Aida pastry chain.

This exhibition is the very first opportunity to see the series Cakes and Balls. The exhibition is being developed in cooperation with Martin Parr and Magnum Photos.
Commissioning of the new photo series was made possible thanks to the support by OstLicht gallery.

Exhibition venue: Kunst Haus Wien
Curator: Verena Kaspar-Eisert
Duration: 3 June – 2 November 2016
Press Conference: Thursday, 2 June 2016, 10 a.m.
Opening: Thursday, 2 June 2016, 7 p.m.