Parr’s Photobook collection now at Tate

13 September 2017

SIG: Contemporary

The recent news that Martin Parr has given (perhaps it would be more accurate to say sold?) his massive photobook collection to Tate is interesting. In August I was lucky enough to be in London and took a brief visit to Tate Modern to see the Artist and Society exhibitions and there was a significant display of photobooks showing images of the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq war.  It turns out the large collection of books are some of those from Parr’s collection.

As well as the photobooks there are many other images, but the photobooks are clearly the stars of the show - the display case is well worth a look, with the books of many different authors’ work opened so that the images form a narrative sequence connecting them to each other.  The images form a time-line of revolution and the Iran-Iraq war.

Overall, without having the historical background and the ability to read Persian, it was difficult for me to understand the narrative of the conflict and destruction that started in 1979 and carried through to late 1988.  The Iranian Revolution was an event that happened when I had just become a teenager and the Iran-Iraq war (what my friends in the Middle East call the first gulf war) was certainly not as well covered in the UK media as what we in the west call the first gulf war when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.  Nevertheless the images are interesting and the photobooks impressive.


A comprehensive review with more familiarity of the context of the images:

News on Martin Parr’s donation:

Image is a picture of “The Imposed War”, a state propaganda photobook which repurposed images that the state had banned the original authors from publishing.