The Gallery, Plymouth College of Art has a series of photographs by Martin Parr showing the different ways in which people display their wealth.
Choosing various locations across the world, and a range of situations including art fairs and race courses, Parr has selected scenarios in which people are comfortable showing off their wealth. Designer clothes, champagne and parties are all part of this repertoire.
As well as the more established wealth hot spots in Europe and America, there are photographs from the emerging world, including the Millionaires’ Fair in Moscow, the Dubai Art Fair and the Motor Show in Beijing.
Traditionally, the portrayal of poverty has been the domain of the “concerned photographer”, but Parr has photographed wealth in the same spirit. He believes that when the newly fledged middle classes of say, China and India, demand and receive the luxury goods that we take for granted in the West, it will put considerable pressure on the world’s resources.
However, we can view Parr’s photographs in different light since the start of the global economic downturn. These images now have the effect of being an epitaph to an era of greed and excess. There are still many wealthy people in the world, and despite the downturn, the parties and horse racing still go on, albeit in a less showy manner. The timing of these photographs is perfect. As we slide into a new world order, we can see evidence of why the bubble burst.
Luxury is at The Gallery, Plymouth College of Art until Friday, October 26.
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