Martin Parr, Taunton, Somerset, England 1998 © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos. Real Food, Martin Parr, Phaidon (page 17).
© Martin Parr/Magnum Photos. Real Food, Martin Parr, Phaidon.
Do you cook yourself?
Yes I adore the idea of planning everything so it's all ready in time, the crafting of a dish. I never use cookery books, unlike my partner, I like to improvise. I love preparing fish because it’s very difficult. It shouldn't be overcooked, otherwise it turns to jelly. It's all in the timing. That's why I like doing roast chicken and roast beef for Sunday lunch. Again it’s about the timing.
Well you don’t seem have affected your daugter Ellen Parr’s appetite because she’s become a chef and founder of the high profile English collective The Art of Dining...
She started out doing maths, but got bored, so she decided to become a chef. She got an internship in a big London restaurant, which she adored. Since then she’s been organising performance events, which are always sold out, mixing contemporary art and cooking. She’s made dishes that I’ve photographed in fact. She is very good at what she does, clever at surprising her audiences. For example, she made a delicious Thai soup served in a tea cup. She loves astonishing people with dishes that look sweet but are in fact savoury or bitter, or things that look horrible but taste marvellous. In a way a chef is like a photographer, it’s all about tricking the opponent.
You’re one of the biggest photographers in the world, and yet you have only ever photographed subjects linked to the banality of daily life, like your series of bored couples. How does that work?
There are people who are a lot more talented than me, particularly in my agency, Magnum, people who take photos of wars and dramas. Personally I’m happier in an ordinary supermarket taking photos of the shelves and trying to reinvent reality rather than in a destroyed city. But I also believe that both merit having their photo taken.
Martin Parr, Real Food, published by Phaidon, 208 pages, 19.90 euros, available in bookshops.
Interview by Violaine Schütz