Novogen is a project focusing on the eponymous breed of French chicken, a special line of commercial layer, which was developed in order to use its eggs in the production of pharmaceutical products such as medicines and vaccines. Through the investigation of the industrialized farming of the Novogen White Light chicken, I intend to articulate questions and dilemmas regarding technology and man’s relation to nature.
The project comprises of three main parts. Its core is formed by an installation, which consists of 168 portraits of individual chickens. This installation is supplemented by a series of photographs documenting the environment of the production facilities as well as the process of vaccine production. The last part is a selection of extracts from the management guide of the Novogen chickens and the marketing material of the manufacturing company.
By taking their portraits, I wanted to picture these animals as the protagonists of the egg industry. The dichotomy of paying separate attention to each chicken and taking a large number of portraits was an important conceptual point; showing unique portraits of over 160 birds not only reflects the scale of mass production but also brings up the question of individuality. The fact that people at first glance may suspect that all the portraits were taken using one chicken is telling about our thoughts concerning these animals. They are treated as identical products, each functioning as a small, individual factory unit, producing the final product, the egg.
Besides posing questions about our understanding of natural and nature, it was a crucial aspect in the making of the project to highlight the interference between how these chickens are being conceptualized and how we think of people in certain situations, such as in the job market, or in the political sphere. I believe that chicken can be a metaphor for human existence.