World

Made in Mexico

British photographer Martin Parr isn’t your stereotypical gringo

This series of photographs is specifically about the relationship between America and Mexico. I travelled to Mexico three times for this project. When I first arrived, I couldn’t believe that so many Mexican men were wearing American baseball hats. Mexicans have this strange, ambivalent relationship with America. It’s as if they’re supporting America by wearing all these US baseball caps — welcoming American iconography and American ideas. But of course Mexico remains entirely Mexican — clearly a contradictory point of view, but contradictions are good starting points for photography.

“I also like to take stereotypes as my starting point. My work tends to confirm stereotypes while deflating them at the same time. It’s about being ambiguous and interpreting the good and the bad in Mexican and American culture, because it’s the stuff in the middle that counts. That’s what I’m trying to capture here — visual ideas that cannot be articulated through verbal language. I’m interested in American globalization and the homogenization of the world. My first project on this subject, in 1999, was called Common Sense. I shot predominantly in America and the rest of the First World, and focused on the idea of a junk society. It’s a very bright book because I’m using the colours of commercial photography, the visual propaganda we’re surrounded by in advertisements.

“A lot of American photographers come and visit Mexico to do books, which tend to be romantic. By contrast, my project is quite hard-hitting, and I’m looking forward to going back to Mexico for my show this October, to see if people enjoy the photos or get angry. If people get angry I’ll be quite flattered. I don’t talk very much about my work. In fact, I think doing this interview is slightly redundant. There’s nothing more to talk about, really. It’s all so obvious. That’s why I take the pictures.”