Mexico

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On a trip to Mexico in the 2000’s Martin Parr was exposed to the clear impact of American pop culture on the Mexican lifestyle. During this time he photographed the kind of juxtapositions that he saw on his journeys such as the Coca Cola sign on the cacti the Nike logos with the day of the dead skulls and so on. These photos were collated into a book entitled Mexico, where in which he presents this countries cliches to the public. Many of the visual themes in this book are signature to Parr who is widely know for his bright, contrasting images. His mocking close ups of food, hats, signs and souvenirs have become his unique selling point over the years. However they do carry the deeper of the corruption of global consumer culture which inject the intense levels of juxtaposition into his works and the underlaying these of comedy, as he puts it, “what I am saying is that it’s a good and a bad thing. I’m constantly trying to express ambiguity. And that’s what photography does very well”.

This book is no expectation to any of Parr’s rules within photography, nothing is insignificant, nothing is off limits. I think that his close ups, especially of food do have the tendencies to blur the lines between beauty and grotesque however I feel that this makes his photography so strong. All elements are designed to attract an audience and leave an impression on them, the strong colours, the bold crop and the strange composition. I looked mainly at the layout and portraits within this look as they link more directly to what I am doing for this module.

The portrait images in this book are of male native Mexicans, born and raised in the country. I think that this helps paint a picture of the people that surrounded Parr at the time. He has capture the characteristics that stereotypically feature in Mexican people, the tanned skin and facial hair. In Mexico, men are considered more powerful than women which is why I think he chose to photograph the men rather than the women. It accurately supports the picture of Mexico that he is trying to create. The images themselves are quite harsh. In true Parr style, the colours are very vivid and they contrast the dark backgrounds. They are clearly taken with an on camera flash as the light is evenly flooded into the face. There are no bags under the eyes or dark lines on the face. I think that this integrates the images into the publication more smoothly and makes them stand out. Other images don’t really include that much shadow area so they stand out making them seem of some importance.

The layout of these images different to the rest of the images in the book. The portraits are always on full page spreads, one next to the other. There is little white space on these pages which supports the idea of their importance and the idea that Martin Parr wants to make them stand out.Do they hold more of a message than the other? Is that why they are bigger and more powerful? Overall the layout is simple and effective however it subtly changes throughout the book, some images are full page, some are half a page, some are spread across two pages. . There is a good use of white space that breaks up the images, I think this break is really important in a Parr photography book because the images and colours are so powerful. By having this whitespace it means that the images are earlier to read and flow better form one to the other.

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