Critics’ Picks

Stratford on Avon (Salt and Pepper), n.d.

Stratford on Avon (Salt and Pepper), n.d.

New York

Martin Parr

Janet Borden, Inc.
560 Broadway #601
April 29–May 28, 2004

British photographer Martin Parr’s view of his native land isn’t quite as jaundiced as the Sex Pistols', but it’s close. In this series he’s gone right to the source of aristocratic mystique, photographing people at Ascot and Henley (the royal racetrack and regatta sites, respectively). Parr deflates the myth of haute English taste with close-ups of tacky petty gentry wearing socks with sandals and an almost-bald man’s comb-over flying in the wind. Other images proffer the pride of the Commonwealth in such guises as seagulls fighting over a container of “chips” (the Union Jack flying behind them) and a man on a beach with the word “England” tattooed on the back of his neck. Best of all is an ad hoc still life–plus–landscape that features filthy salt and pepper shakers against the background of a stained placemat sporting an eighteenth-century-style image of a Gothic cathedral. It’s a timeless monument to the greatness of Old Blighty.