From the series Bored Couples: "FINLAND. Ferry between Helsinki and Stokholm", by Martin Parr, 1991

Martin Parr (Flash is required): “FINLAND. Ferry between Helsinki and Stokholm. 1991” from the series Bored Couples (22 colour images, unpaged), published by Galerie du Jour Agnès B., Paris, 1993. © Martin Parr, 2011

[Although I refer to Martin Parr’s official website where one can browse a preview of his book, the source for the photograph posted above (without watermarks) is the Galerie Paris-Beijing website]
Artist’s statement from the Magnum Photos website:

This series of photographs were taken as an opportunity to explore the veracity of the caption.
We do not know if these random couples are bored or not. Who is to say what is authentic when captioned as thus?
Parr also photographs himself with his partner appearing to be bored, but she is, in fact, very excited at the addition of this photo to the project.

I was reminded of Martin Parr’s series Bored Couples recently while reading Hannah Arendt’s observations in her book The Human Condition about what it means to “live together”. Those observations seem to contradict the utopian (and possibly naive) idea of a “world without boundaries”:

To live together in the world means essentially that a world of things is between those who have it in common, as a table is located between those who sit around it; the world, like every in-between, relates and separates men at the same time. (The Human Condition, Second Edition, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1958, p. 52)

• • •

More about Martin Parr online:

  • One can browse (and even better subscribe) to Martin Parr’s personal blog.
  • “Ruthless Courtesies: The Making of Martin Parr” in The Pleasures of Good Photographs by Gerry Badger, published by the Aperture Foundation, 2010. PDF retrieved from
  • From the collective Re: “Boundaries Merely Exist in People’s Minds” an interview with Martin Parr by Maarten Dings and Joachim Naudts (PDF), November 25, 2007

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