Magnum Photos, in partnership with the Anonymous Project, presents an exhibition at Cromwell Place, London, based on the book, Déjà View, by Martin Parr and Lee Shulman, published by Textuel in 2021.
A playful conversation between two important photographic archives, the book — and now the exhibition — consists of pairs. For each work by Martin Parr, there is a paired image from the Anonymous Project’s collection of found amateur photographs, taken between the 1950s and 80s.
The pairings are set in diverse settings and situations from across Europe and America. Featuring holidays, celebrations, and people from all walks of life, the photographs represent some of Parr’s most iconic works in dialogue with vernacular photography at its finest, captured in different locations and eras, but often bearing striking, or whimsical similarities.
Martin Parr’s archive of 50,000 photographs captures stereotypes and society with an unmistakable eye for the quirks of ordinary life. “It’s very difficult to take a good photograph of ordinary, everyday life. That’s what I like to try and do, it’s what motivates me to get out and about with my camera. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get a good picture, but there’s always a chance you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” Parr explained in an interview about Déjà View. “The book is pure, simple and direct. For me, it’s everything I love most.”
The Anonymous Project was founded in 2017 by film director and artist Lee Shulman to gather and conserve color slides taken by amateur photographers around the world from the late 1930s to the mid-1980s. The collection now comprises over 800,000 Kodachrome slides. “Our combined pictures speak to what photography is and what it can contribute: a simple, happy moment, shared. This book is full of optimism, humour, love and humanity.” Shulman said in the same interview, with Parr and Dimitri Beck, Director of Photography at Polka.