As i was looking at the preview of the next Paris Photo on Lens Culture I saw the work of Richard Billingham, a Turner Prize nominee in 2001 and winner of Citibank Photography Prize in 1997. I rembember seeing his works around 1994 during a group show "Who's Looking at the Family " held at Barbican art centre in London. A couple of years later Ray's a Laugh was his first book and an immediate success who started off a series of social, political and artistic debates in England.
With the publication of Ray's a Laugh, Billingham ended a six years research, that he began to source material for his paintings, looking at his mum and dad, Liz and Ray living in a council estate in west Midland. Ravaged by alcoholism and poverty, the project was about his family every day life with some brutally frank images of an alternative family album.
Billingham says about this project "In all these photographs I never bothered with things like the negatives. Some of them got marked and scratched. I just used the cheapest film and took them to be processed at the cheapest place. I was just trying to make order out of chaos." I still remember when seeing this photographs asking myself how can he ever produce a projects in the future capable of matching Ray`s laugh.
So few years later Zoo is Billingham’s compelling series of photography and video installations, inspired by his childhood visits to the Zoo. Billingham with this project is questioning the relationships between the public audience and captive animals and their unnatural environment.