Small Worldby Martin Parr
Dewi Lewis Publishing, November 2007
96 pages/hardcover/69 color photographs/$45.00
Reviewed by Jain Lemos
Photo editors and researchers have recently seen photo requests for soft-filtered shots of children running through flowery fields for real estate ad campaigns, insisting there should be no house in sight. It seems to follow that in the near future, travel clients won’t need photos of the actual attractions anymore when it comes time to feature the highlights of their destinations. To meet that spec when it arrives, you’ll find just the right images in Small World by Martin Parr.
In this delightful satire, Parr turns his camera away from the monuments and onto the tourists. In doing so, he reveals that during our search for authentic cultures, we haven’t exactly left behind our own. This redesigned and lengthened edition (copies of the 1996 original allegedly now demand a high premium), has an amusing new introduction by Geoff Dyer that matches Parr’s photographic knack for comedic timing
Parr’s images in Small World are not ones likely to be added to our family trip albums. He has exposed us: being attacked by a pigeon in the town square; queuing up for a tour in the rain like ants; standing in the street with our head buried in a very large map; and wearing hometown logos, maybe to trade for a native craft?
The publisher notes: “These Small World citizens become symbols of the freedoms of Western prosperity; declaring their power and their right to travel, to choose and, above all, to consume.” If you need witty illustrations for your next travel article or ad, take a spin through Small World. The more these images are published, the more we can celebrate the coming atonement of the world traveler.