I’ve had another opportunity to show my chicken shop series (named Thirty Two Hyrbids this time) at the AVA Gallery at the University of East London. It’s a privilege to share gallery space with some exciting artists and some big names too! Notable pieces include Meat by Hedley Roberts;a messy, slithery portrait of Kate and Wills’ public wedding kiss, Eric Great-Rex’s intricate ceramic panel Anger and John Smith‘s classic film The Girl Chewing Gum. All exhibitors work in the School of Arts and Digital Industries at UEL and its great to see such a diversity of practices within it.
It’s good to realise the piece again, albeit in a slightly different format. There is always some compromise with art and exhibition making – be it space, cash or time. Last time I installed this work I used black tape to attach the photographs which gave it a slightly shabby aesthetic in keeping with the nature of the subject. Of course this means that the prints are only good for one use and I really want to be able to install these again.
Since I started taking pictures of the Chicken ‘restaurants’ in 2010 there’s been a series on Channel 4 The Fried Chicken Shop, and blogs such as Southern Fried London and Fried Chicken of London. It seems I’m not the only one to be interested in their wonky gastronomic semiotics. I intend my photo to highlight both the signage (at once American and Halal, global and parochial, unofficial and corporate) and the Victorian buildings in which they are housed; adorned with satellite dishes and to-let signs. To me these restaurants symbolise the transience and economic struggle of life in a global city be they the workers, the diners or those that live above. Fried chicken restaurants are a ubiquitous part of contemporary London and are as much a hybrid as the city itself. Hence Thirty-Two Hybrids.