Life’s ironies exposed

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By Erin Kobayashi

Japanese subway commuters in a deep sleep.

British babies frolicking along the seaside with Mummy.

A Spanish nuclear family.

These were some of the many colourful — black and white — images celebrated British photographer and Kodak guest speaker Martin Parr presented to an enthusiastic audience last Friday at Jorgenson Hall.

Parr’s eclectic collection of photographs depict images from around the world, including Germany, Holland and Spain.

“Photographers love to photograph things that are exotic,” he said, taking the stage after a 20-minute long introduction.  “So I’d go to a supermarket parking lot when the weather was bad and see if I could get something interesting.

“All the ordinary things in life are overlooked.”

Genuinely surprised by the full house of trendy image arts students and eager senior citizens, Parr said it was nice to see such a responsive audience.

The crowd sounded more like a laugh track than a live audience as they reacted to Parr’s speech about the opportunities domestic life can bring to photography.

But it was the photograph of a fat American woman hugging a giant sundae that sent the entire audience into fits of uncontrolled laughter.

“It’s great — we can all sit and have a laugh at Americans,” Parr said.  “That’s why I like Canada.”

Parr, who studied photography at Manchester Polytechnic in England from 1970 to 1973, said he remembers being a student and listening to speakers.

“It’s peculiar now to be on the other side of the fence,” he said.

Parr’s lecture opened the 25th anniversary of the internationally renowned Kodak lecture series, which will continue until March 16.  Eight other speakers are scheduled to give lectures, including Toronto director Jeremey Podewsa on Feb. 16.

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