Dániel Szalai

168 portraits of different chickens, but they resemble each other like two drops of water. These are Novogen White hens, a race designed to lay as many eggs as possible, which are used for medicine. 'These chickens have as much to do with technology as with nature', says Dániel Szalai (Hungary).


‘The chickens in these photos have as much to do with technology as with nature’, says Dániel Szalai (Hungary, 1991), student at the Moholy-Nagy University in Budapest. He visited one of the farms of the company Prohyl Ltd. in southern Hungary where some 30 thousand Novogen White hens live. They produce 120 thousand SPF or ‘specific pathogens free eggs’ weekly, which are used for vaccines and medicines.

The 168 different chickens Szalai portrayed resemble each other like two drops of water. They are mass products, egg-producing factories. In addition, Szalai shows images of the controlled, sterile environment in which the industrialised lives of the chickens take place. He also collected marketing material that exudes a cold kind of pragmatism. The only reason for the chicken is its egg.

It is a dilemma, says Szalai. The chickens are well taken care of, but to say that they lead a nice life? At the same time, the eggs are used for the production of medicine that saves human lives. This industry also reminds us of our dependence on these animals. Because no matter how far medical technologies have progressed, no real artificial alternative has yet been found for these specific eggs.