Ad Limine: Martin Parr’s Humans on the Beach. Re-empowering the English Seaside Resorts as Pop Culture
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In the 1960s, the British working class gradually replaced the coastal landscape with the beaches of the Mediterranean. The coastal resorts of England experienced a decline and a transformation into “toxic” places, ad limine. The paper investigates British coastal culture as a source of hybrid narratives. Developing the work of Ingleby and Kerr (Coastal Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century, Edinburgh UP, 2018), it discusses the visual coastal stories of Martin Parr to understand his view of Britishness. Parr’s photographs investigate places that witnessed the empowerment and profound transformation of the English working-class identity. He provides a non-judgmental analysis of humans performing universal and ritual actions in his coloured and saturated shots that evoke impressionist beach painting. The photographs represent the English northern beach as a bright and glossy place in contrast with the political and cultural issues faced by the British working class during the last decades of the past century.
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