Alec Soth: Badgering Parr

I take back almost all of those bad things I may ever have said about Gerry Badger, whose writing long ago in the British Journal of Photography was surely designed to wring the most from curmudgeonly misers by using twenty five words where one would have been more appropriate, surely sacrificing clarity for another thousand words at their ridiculously low rates.

His account, recently published by Alec Soth under the heading Badgering Parr is a hilarious story of Magnum’s recent New York sheenanigans. What makes it even more hilarious are the responses of some of the readers, some of whom show a complete inability to comprehend irony – and I assume Soth’s introduction was meant to provoke such AOL responses. I’m not going to join in the controversy about the description of Deborah Bell as ‘fragrant‘ but she is certainly one of the nicest gallery owners I’ve met. (As one of the comments points out, the word is a reference to a notorious British court case.)
I’m rather less certain that Martin Parr’s photography of the event was also meant to be a joke, though I rather hope so. Surely he cannot be serious!

Soth also quotes a letter from Philip Jones Griffiths, surely the greatest of Welsh photographers, and the man whose Vietnam Inc, made such a clear indictment of the Vietnam War that had me in tears as I read it, written in opposition to Parr’s Magnum entry. It is an interesting document, and I wonder how different Magnum would have been today had he swayed just one more Magnum member to vote against Parr. Not justĀ  Magnum, but photography too.

I’m in many ways a fan of Parr. He sometimes makes images that I stand in front of and feel are exactly right and why didn’t I have the nous to do it like that. But at times he does things that make me feel uneasy, or that I just don’t like. Some of these party pictures make me feel that, but others I’m afraid are just, well, boring. I didn’t know Martin had it in him.

But do read the whole piece. As they say on the Internet, it had me ROTFLMGO.

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