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I'll Bet the Devil My Head by Carlos Alba

I'll Bet the Devil My Head by Carlos Alba

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“ I selected the urban foxes as a metaphor of the working class, the ravens as an element of social control and the brokers as the elite of this fable. I like to play with the universal language of a short story that tells a moral truth and can be interpreted from children to ancients.”

Carlos Alba

 

I'll Bet the Devil My Head by Carlos Alba

 

The fox holds significant importance in the UK, as Londoners are divided in their adoration or disdain for these creatures. Notably, the social tensions arising from the Brexit conflict mirror the bitter animosity prevailing between pro and anti-fox factions. Some individuals perceive urban foxes as a malign aberration. However, the truth remains that, like humans, foxes adapt to their surroundings and thrive wherever circumstances permit. The visual tale, titled ‘I'll Bet The Devil My Head’, metaphorically underlines the shared traits and experiences between humans and foxes, highlighting the disparities among inhabitants of different London neighbourhoods.

Over a period of 4 years, whilst living in Tower Hamlets, Spanish artist Carlos Alba documented the daily life of a family of local Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). In the borough of Tower Hamlets, 43% of children live in poverty—the highest rate in London—yet his neighbourhood is surrounded by two of the most important financial areas in the world: The City of London and Canary Wharf.

To make this project, Alba would begin photographing in the hours when both the city brokers left their offices and the foxes came out onto the streets. Echoing the methodology of a wildlife photographer, Alba studied the behaviour of his subjects and waited patiently for both humans and foxes to appear. The resulting photographs show the fleeting movement of both the foxes and city workers through the same streets. The backdrops show both austere, slick office buildings and also areas where nature is slowly encroaching on the city. Mainly lit by artificial street and office lights, both people and beasts are often obscured by darkness and shadow.

The making of this project coincided with the EU Referendum, when much of the media discussion has focused on the disconnection between London and the rest of the country. With the widespread characterisation of London as the home of a privileged metropolitan elite, the reality was starkly different with inequality in the capital higher than elsewhere in England. The great division in the UK over Brexit echoed Londoner’s own tensions over foxes—some celebrating the prevalence of urban wildlife and others perceiving them as a malign aberration.

Although the book focuses on one small area of London, Red foxes are flourishing in urban areas across the world. The book acts as a global metaphor for inequality, with the use of the fox, familiar since Aesop’s fables over 2500 years ago.

"I started this project because I wanted to document the big differences that we have in our contemporary society. Trying to address at the root problems such us money, homeless and childhood poverty, especially in a neighborhood surrounded by two financial areas like Canary Wharf and The City of London."

Carlos Alba

Size: 11,5 x 16 cm
Number of pages: 104
Limited edition of 500 copies
Flexicover with cloth

Publisher: VOID

ISBN 978-618-5479-27-5

Shortlisted at Foto book Kassel Dummy Award  2023

Review on Blind Magazine (English)

Review on Publico.pt (Portuguese)

 

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