Deja View: Martin Parr and The Anonymous Project create an uncanny photographic double act
Esteemed British photographer Martin Parr has been capturing the apparently mundane moments that make up everyday life for decades, but he's not the only one. In a new book from Hoxton Mini Press, images from Martin's archive are paired up with photos taken by The Anonymous Project, and the similarities are startling.
Described as a 'unique visual dialogue', Deja View sifts through the back catalogue of both Martin and The Anonymous Project, an archive started by Lee Shulman which preserves mid-century colour slides from around the world. Both specialise in vernacular photography - images caught on camera with no artistic intent - and without realising it, they've each caught uncannily similar fragments of day-to-day life between the 50s and 80s.
The moments of interest in this book come from spotting the little details, such as the types of cars people drove, the clothes they wore, or how much (or little) things cost in days gone by. If you've ever looked back on family photos and been astounded by your wardrobe choices or confused by your haircuts, it's a similar sensation to that but on a countrywide scale.
Consciously anti-perfectionists, both Martin and Lee have an eye for compositions with an energy and dynamism that goes against the grain. If an out of focus elbow juts into shot or the subjects are arranged in a haphazard display, that only serves to add to the power of a good photograph. It's a refreshing approach to photography and one that speaks to how the medium has become more accessible and disposable with the increasing convenience of the medium.
Inside the book, the amusing similarities between the pair's work are played out via double-page spreads of corresponding photos. From holidaymakers enjoying a picnic in eerily similar vehicles to a roast being carved and brides disembarking from a car on their big day, it's a fascinating insight into how events both large and small are undertaken in subtly different ways.
Beyond these striking similarities, though, Martin is keen not to over-intellectualise the project. In a transcribed introduction between himself and Lee which opens the book, the pair stress the importance of spontaneity which runs through its pages. "A good photograph is a picture that tells a story, that has an energy, that captivates you, the viewer", Martin explains in the introduction."But having said that, it's something that's very difficult to pin down. If I had the perfect formula, I probably wouldn't still be working as a photographer. This book is pure, simple and direct. For me, it's everything I love most."
Deja View by Martin Parr and The Anonymous Project is published by Hoxton Mini Press.