Novogen focuses on the eponymous breed of chickens, a special type of laying hens whose eggs are used in the production of vaccines and other medications. Considering Novogen White Chickens and their role in the pharmaceutical industry, the work poses vital questions and dilemmas about humankind’s relationship to nature and calls us to consider the price paid to maintain our health and longevity. At the same time, by taking the chicken as a metaphor, it reflects on the capitalist concepts of workforce and our commodified existence.
The core of the work is formed by an installation of 168 individual chicken portraits. This installation is complemented by a series of photographs documenting the environment of the production facilities and the process of vaccine production. Its last part is a selection of extracts from the management guide of Novogen White hens and the marketing material of the company which produces them.
Daniel Szalai is a visual artist born in Hungary, in 1991. His works investigate peculiar manifestations of human-animal relationships and reflect on ecological, societal, political and economic anomalies. Szalai studied photography at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest and the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and also holds a degree in Art and Design Theory. In 2020, Szalai was selected for the Futures Photography Platform and nominated for the C/O Berlin Talent Award. A year earlier, he was a winner of the LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards and the recipient of the ON Award at OFF Bratislava. In 2018, he became a laureate of the Carte Blanche Award and he was awarded the grand prize at the Budapest Portfolio Review. He was a participant of PARALLEL - European Photo Based Platform in 2018–2019. His works were presented internationally at solo and group exhibitions and published widely in online and print media.
Szalai is a member of the Carte Blanche Collective. He lives and works in Budapest.
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