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The exhibition is at the Palacio de la Aduana. MIGUE FERNÁNDEZ
Martin Parr's photo travel diary

Martin Parr's photo travel diary

Malaga through the lens of the influential Magnum agency photographer

Regina Sotorrío

Malaga

Friday, 30 June 2023, 10:32

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He arrived in Malaga on 8 September, 2022, and soon after landing began receiving call after call. International magazines from all over the world were offering him large sums of money to return home and cover the death of Queen Elizabeth II. But Martin Parr, who was born in the UK in 1952, rejected them all, as he was too excited by his project on the Costa del Sol.

After spending six months unable to work due to a mobility problem which meant he required a walking frame, he was waiting impatiently "like a child" to return to the streets and to do what he does best: capture the identity of a place with his camera. Now on display in the Museum of Malaga is a kind of travel diary from the Magnum agency photographer.

He is one of the most influential photographers today. Wielding a rebellious perspective that revolutionised the concept of documentary photography in the 80s, switching from the black and white image, which was up-to-then associated with serious and rigorous fieldwork, for vibrant colour to show the ins and outs of everyday life.

He uses flash even in bright sunlight to further emphasise the tones. And always with irony, focusing on the contrasts and tensions of modern day life. The uncomfortable balance between old and new traditions was what inspired the many photos he took on the Costa del Sol.

"He is an anthropologist who presents his thoughts in an entertaining way," said Juan María Rodríguez, director of the Andalusian Film and Photography Institute.

MalagaEXPRESS, which can be visited up to the 30 December, is a mosaic of 104 images in the Palacio de la Aduana, a space that is now the headquarters of the recently founded Andalusian art institute.

In this collection of photos, divided into three sections (leisure, people and food), one recognises various places and faces of Malaga, but from an unusual perspective. They are not the snapshots of the city that a tourist would take: sardines next to octopus tentacles on a barbecue, flamenco dresses that can be bought for eight euros from a souvenir shop, tourists sitting outside a cafe looking concerned, a man selling snails in front of the Huelin market, a woman showering next to the famous letters of the Playa de la Malagueta and a couple sunbathing surrounded by unicorn and dolphin pedal boats.

On the walls of the Aduana you can also see some of the most well known faces of Malaga. The artists Javier Calleja and Juanjo Fuentes, avant garde flamenco dancer La Chachi, veteran flamenco singer Fosforito, chef José Carlos García and even the mayor Francisco de la Torre and the president of the provincial council, Francisco Salado, prior to the elections.

Martin Parr moved between Malaga city and Mijas during the feast of La Victoria, the patron saint of Malaga. That is why there are so many pictures of flamenco dances and mantillas, like the one of a woman who is dressed for a fiesta, but shares the same serious expression as the image of the virgin framed behind her. Again, searching for the contradictions of a changing reality to encourage thought.

"He is very pleasant, he doesn't condemn or judge us, he observes at a distance with British irony, with a criticism that doesn't bother anyone," said Juan María Rodríguez.

This exhibition is part of the global project PARR for PARR, which consists of two simultaneous exhibitions in Malaga and Almeria. In Almeria, it is a journey through Parr's almost 50-year-long career, with unpublished pictures that he took in Almeria between 1990 and 1992.

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