Assignment 2: Review Small World by Martin Parr

When I visited Dubai and was planning on taking photos for Assignment 2, I had just been to an exhibition of Martin Parr in Paris, called 'Martin Parr's Paris. This exhibition shows images of Paris through the eyes of Martin Parr. Most are pictures from the stereotype places, the tourists, the models, the Frenchman with smoking a cigar, etc. I was a bit disappointed because when you put them in line of his other work, it showed that wherever Martin Parr goes, he sees the same things in the same way. I wonder if he would be able to dare himself to step out the generalisations and stereotypical places and photograph those. 

Because of this I was taken aback to find one image of moslims praying in the street. This image did not necessarily have the cheesy look that most of his other images have and had a more documentary feel to it. I wondered why this image was part of the collection. Does Martin Parr place the prayer life of a muslim in its own town under the same category as a tourist who is treading in a foreign space? For me this was a good example of how the collection of images can bring across a message that might not be intended for an individual image in a collection.

Anyway, after Paris, I flew on to Dubai and did a tourist desert tour. This tour let's you 'experience' nomad life in a 4 hour trip to the desert, dinner in a camp, camel rides, belly dancers and henna painting. What striked me was how the entire trip was a fabrication of the perception that tourists have from life in the desert and how through the way they participated in it and document every single aspect of it, the ideas are maintained. This irony was what I wanted to capture and I'm sure it was triggered by the exhibition I had seen in Paris before. 

I read this review about Martin Parr's 'Small World', a book that shows tourists in touristic places from all over the world. It questions in what ways we build our reality around things that are supposed to be beautiful, worth watching and experiencing. 

Now that I'm photographing so much myself, I find myself not taking anymore photographs when I'm somewhere to really enjoy the place or activity itself. Maybe this is even more so after seeing Martin Parr's images and having photographed the desert trip. It's good to be aware of how taking photos changes the perception of things, but also the way somethings are experienced.