Martin Parr is Under Fire for a Photo Book Reprint He Edited in 2017

A reprint of a 1969 photo book edited by Martin Parr two years ago includes a double page layout with claims of racist overtones, triggering a backlash against the famed documentary photographer.

While Martin Parr has been busy promoting and preserving the works of British photographers and images taken in the British Isles, controversy has recently erupted about his alleged backing of racism within the very genre he supports. It unfolded last week with a tweet from LessThanHumanDebate, which sparked a discussion about a book edited by Parr from the 1960s.

The tweet lamented about the double page layout from the photo book LONDON by Gian Butturini, which first came out as a self-published volume in 1969. Fast-forward to more recent times, Martin Parr is one of the editors and authors of texts included in the edition republished by Damiani in 2017. The double page in question shows juxtaposed images of a black woman and a caged gorilla.

From one perspective, it’s easy to see why “utterly horrified and appalled” are the words we see on the tweet. But perhaps the more important question being asked is how did such an uncomfortable juxtaposition slip past the editors and even the publishers of this reprint? This is exactly what people are wondering about, but second only to the call to put an end to what are claims of racist imagery. Some are even calling for Damiani to drop this book altogether.

No word yet from Parr about this issue, and we’re sure many are now waiting for even a comment from the celebrated documentary photographer. Some have lamented that Parr has even described the book as “fantastic” while promoting it in an event, knowing that this juxtaposition wasn’t omitted in the reprint.

So, we all wait for Martin Parr to give his statement on this matter, lest he continues to be under fire for such a controversial and distasteful juxtaposition, especially by today’s standards.


Photo via Amazon