‘Right’ for Bristol photo festival director to step down

right for bristol photo festival director to step down - 'Right' for Bristol photo festival director to step down
Image caption Martin Parr said he had “overlooked the racist juxtaposition” of the images

A photographer’s decision to stand down from a festival has been welcomed after he apologised for his foreword to a book with a “demeaning” spread.

Martin Parr wrote for a book that included a picture of a black woman next to an image of a gorilla.

Activist Benjamin Chesterton said the Bristol Photo Festival’s future “depended” on Mr Parr standing down as artistic director.

Mr Parr said he had “overlooked the racist juxtaposition” of the images.

A photo of a black woman is printed next to a photo of a gorilla in a cage at London Zoo in the 2017 reprint of the 1969 book “London” by Italian photographer Gian Butturini.

Mr Parr, 68, said he was “deeply embarrassed” and the fee he received for writing the introduction would be donated to “appropriate charities”.

“When this was brought to my attention, I publicly apologised and I have since requested the book be withdrawn from sale.

“I felt my continued presence as artistic director would provide an unnecessary distraction from the wonderful work being exhibited by the festival artists and that stepping back was the best course of action for everyone.”

In an apology posted online Mr Parr said the booked contained a spread that was “offensive and demeaning”.

Mr Parr is a documentary photographer who created the “Oneness” series of idents for BBC One.

An anti-racism campaign was launched by 20-year-old student Mercedes Baptiste Halliday following the reprint’s publication.

Image copyright Martin Parr/Magnum
Image caption Martin Parr created a series of BBC One idents featuring people from various communities around the UK

She told The Art Newspaper Mr Parr “represents a generation of white, middle-aged men who do what they want without any consequences”.

“He is the institution, and we are only beginning to dismantle it.”

Mr Chesterton, who writes about issues such as race in the photography world, said Mr Parr “had no choice” but to step down.

“Bristol is the city where Colston’s statue was dragged from its plinth and dumped in the docks.

“Parr’s visual illiteracy when it comes to race means he was a disastrous choice as Bristol Photography Festival’s artistic director.

“It’s right that he was removed. I believe the future of the festival depended on it.

“You can have Martin Parr as artistic director. You can have an inclusive photo festival. You just can’t have both.”

Bristol Photo Festival, which is due to host its first exhibition next year, confirmed Mr Parr would be replaced as artistic director.

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