Common Sense is a 350-colored-photograph portfolio documenting global consumerism in tight close up and lurid colors. With visuals ranging from tacky clothes to souvenir-esque founds, the project witnessed the peak of the western’s consumer culture, and has become much more relatable for the Asian audience as the economy grows in a dramatically rapid speed on the continent and the culture turns largely global. Those historical pictures not only marked the starting point of Parr’s successful career, they also initiated Parr’s long term philosophies of making pictures: “The first priority of making pictures is to make a photo that is entertaining and good to look at, and also to relate to people’s lives. … There is a serious strand running through the work, but I don’t want to thrust it down people’s throat.”
For two centuries mankind witnesses how images shape our world and affect the societies we are part of. The book On Photography by Susan Sontag was first published in 1977, a fantastic selection of essays on photographic studies, where Sontag argued that since photography had become one of the principle devices for experiencing things and for giving an appearance of participation, it made us feel that the world is more available than it really is. More than 40 years later, in the unusual year of 2020, when traveling is limited to close to none and emotions are embraced in full solidarity, the theory of Sontag was once again put to test and proved gold – through Parr’s lurid colored photos, we feel the tropical sands that once between our toes and the gentle sways of the boat against the blue ocean tides, and we are more than certain that the lightness of life and the gregariousness inside the humanity carry on.
About Martin Parr
Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer and photojournalist. He’s known for his photographic projects that take an intimate, satirical and anthropological look at aspects of modern life, in particular documenting the social classes of England, and more broadly the wealth of the Western world. His photographic works have been involved in numerous museum and private collections for nearly 20 years, including Tate Britain, MoMA New York and M+ Hong Kong. In recent years, Parr has developed a stronger focus, in his pictures, on cultural activities and leisure pursues of those from Asian countries and regions. Parr has organized solo exhibitions and photographic projects in China, Japan and even North Korea. Parr is a member of the leading photographic cooperative and community Magnum Photos and the founder of Martin Parr Foundation located in Bristol, Britain, where the artist has been working and living for more than two decades.