Martin Parr’s installation at Metro Hall repositions some of the photographs at Pearson International Airport, but with a tighter focus on the images of food he captured in Toronto. Vivid photographs of mass-produced items such as hot dogs and canned luncheon meat share space with mouth-watering ethnic dishes including tacos, gefilte fish, and poutine. Viewers are taken on a culinary tour of the city from Parr’s distinct perspective; his seductive collection of close-up photographs amuse, tantalize, and often repulse, offering a playful rumination on how a hungry person with their eyes set on eating might observe the diverse foods of Toronto.

For this new commissioned series, Parr toured through several of Toronto’s food-centric shopping locations and created a portrait of the city through the tastes we share. Stops included the historic St. Lawrence and Kensington markets, of significance to many of the city’s immigrant communities, past and present. The tour also brought the artist to Chinatown and the organic farmer’s market at Dufferin Grove Park. Popping in and out of big-box stores and tiny food stalls, camera in hand, Parr followed his ravenous documentary instinct, snapping away at products on the shelves and on the plates of hungry diners.

The resulting installation of large-format photographs, presented at a central location that officially represents the city, creates a mosaic of flavours that playfully shows Torontonians the extent to which “we are what we eat.” Of the 52 images on display at Metro Hall, half are from this exploration of Toronto, while the other images situate this local context in a larger collection of Parr’s food imagery taken around the world.

Supported by the City of Toronto