Chris Boot & RM Editions, London & Mexico City, 2009. Hardbound with wrapped boards. 64 pp., 57 color illustrations, 5¼x8¼".
Playas Photographs by Martin Parr. Published by Chris Boot & RM Editions, 2009.
British photographer Martin Parr's previously recorded trip to the beach was to the Liverpool suburb of New Brighton, a holiday spot well past its sell-by date when he made his mid-1980's visits. In The Last Resort, his monograph of those visits, he captured the English working class having a desperate go at enjoying themselves, their white skin for the most part impervious to what sun there was.
Between 2006 and 2008, Parr and his wife Susie spent time on the beaches of South America, which resulted in the new monograph Playas. A world away from their native England, they found the sun and acres of sand filled with its worshippers. As Susie Parr points out in her essay that accompanies the images, "A day at the beach is the same the world over.” There are, however, considerable differences in style.
Mrs. Parr makes the standard European observation that in Brazil, "no one minds what you look like. Little is left to the imagination." But this is not the case in say, Mexico or Chile. Here men wear t-shirts in the surf and older women are fully garbed beneath their parasols. Parr records all these types singly, in pairs, and en masse. With a little editing, Susie Parr's text could read like a Samuel Beckett description of a blighted landscape. "Every inch of beach at Mar de Plata is at a premium; space is contested and ordered...only the bravest and strongest tourists dare struggle through the wall of foam..." And certain images of Parr's could be scenes from that overcrowded Beckettesque play.
Playas, by Martin Parr. Published by Chris Boot & RM Editions, 2009.
Playas has been printed and bound to resemble the cheapest range of souvenir book one might bring home from a beach vacation. The printed laminated cover is destined to be scuffed, the binding will quickly get bumped, and the photos inside come pre-faded. All it lacks is a single detachable postcard so the purchaser could share his holiday with at least one friend.
—Charles Dee Mitchell