“I am not an animal! I am a human being! I…am…a man!” these famous lines of Joseph Merrick speak of the distance between our ideals of tolerance and the tropes of xenophobia which create cultural boundaries.
Merrick was a Victorain ‘freak’ taken on as a patient by Dr Frederick Treves at the Whitechapel Hospital and paraded in front of society as a curiosity. This icon inspired Avelino Sala to think about the pychogeography of the East End and how migration and remixing might define the icon of the new elephant man into a puzzle of races, a collage of cultures and mix of traditions that coexist in this particular zone of the city. Avelino Sala took photographs in the Boundary area of London to people of 23 different nationalities, and gives form through their sampled faces, , to the face of the new Elephant man. A homage to hybridity, to the mixture, to what the future takes us.
In turn, this strange image is returned to the streets, the cradle of the project, in the shape of Stencils, identical with the walls of the neighbourhood where the photographs have been taken, the project pays homage to plurality. The language of the street, the stencil, not only generates more questions, but also offers ” another reality “.