Hackney: A Tale of Two Cities – Zed Nelson

Edited by Matilde Casaglia – Art and Culture Editor – matilde.casaglia@positive-magazine.com
Artworks by Zed Nelson –  www.zednelson.com


A Tale of Two Cities.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
Dickens wrote an historical novel with this same title, in 1859, talking about London and Paris during the French Revolution and the period known as the Terror.
Zed Nelson is a British photographer, and the exhibition A tale of two cities is focused not only in one city, London, but also in a precise area of London, Hackney. Under the same postcode, two different cities seem to cohabit… and the “revolutionary” atmosphere is not that unfamiliar in these streets.


As seen in last year’s riots, an under-class generation seem to be dislocated from progressive society. Nelson wants, with this project, to mirror the social situation of the borough of Hackney, where fashionable yuppie and glamorous hipsters awkwardly co-exist with crime gangs and under-privileged.
Nelson’s project aims to witness the interesting controversial soul of the borough, which is represented by the people who lives here, and is connected to the oxymora present in every human being.

Zed Nelson has lived in Hackney all his life. Here the photographer went to school, learnt to ride a bicycle, lost his virginity and took his first drugs. In his twenties Hackney represented a place to get away from. But today, the confusion of cultures, the clash of identities, the light and the dark side are something the artist need to report to the world with his photographs, and his point of view is even more interesting considering his personal relation with Hackney.

Last year, on a normal rainy day, an 18-year-old was shot in the leg, after two men on a motorbike shot at two youths walking along the street, who then returned fire.
On the same day a 16-year-old girl, Agnes Sina-Inakoju, was shot dead in this chicken shop “and this is just a block away from where I was photographing all these hipsters,” says Mr Nelson. “These incidents happen in such close proximity – yet life goes on without a hiccup.”

“Technology now means anyone can take a technically good photo,” says Mr Nelson. “So photography should be about having something to say. I’ve spent 20 years travelling – from Afghanistan to Angola and Somalia – but found a fascinating world on my doorstep.”

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