Boring Postcards USA

18th October 2019

Gosh – I could not believe how many books Martin Parr has published – so many – so little money!

This is one photographer that I definitely want to collect the books of. I think I will literally have to start off with the cheapest second hand books and work my way up in price having read that there are around 100 books to collect. I also collect exhibition catalogues which show work that I am interested in so I will have to buy with self-control.

Martin Parr (2004), Boring Postcards USA. Hong Kong: Phaidon Press

The book Boring Postcards USA follows on from Boring Postcards which has 160 of the dullest postcards of 1950s, 60s and 70s Britain. In the USA version (as in the British version) the postcards must be described ‘boring’ due to aspects like the composition, content or the characters.

The presentation of the postcards makes the collection anything but boring. They have been grouped together into categories. Looking through the book and listing these categories I have written them down and they follow:

  • Ariel views of roads – interchanges, highways, turnpikes, bridges
  • Car washes, truck stops
  • Diners, restaurants, cafe
  • Motels, inns, lodges, hotels
  • Shopping centres, malls, plazas, stores
  • Streets, banks, bus stations, airports
  • Air Force bases, army barracks, naval air station, air Force academy
  • College – Astrodome, college buildings, dormitories, residence halls
  • Hospitals, retirement home, churches etc…
  • Machinery, dams, chemical plants, factories
  • Objects
  • Trailer parks
  • Cars

When you begin to bring together these postcards as Parr has, they ditch their ‘boring’ and become ‘interesting’ because they begin to tell a social and historical story and you begin to see styles of clothes, cars, buildings and objects of a time and places in the USA.

The layout of the book is simple. The book opens up with and ends with a continuous text of names of those granting permission for their postcards to be used within the book. The remaining of the books pages are simple, one postcard per page sometimes accompanied underneath with text explaining what the postcard is – I presume that maybe the text is also found on the back of the postcard?

Inside covers, advertising people and companies who have granted permission for their postcards to be published.

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