The Hawthorne Effect sees Alexis Chabala’s work evolve away from his direct study of identity—specifically Black identity—to a new endeavour which forces each of his subjects to investigate their own identities, images and natural impetus for self-expression. Whether this transition will be reflected in the audience’s reaction and subsequent self-examination remains to be seen, but that such a transition reflects a global tendency to turn critical spotlights onto our own behaviour cannot be questioned.
Named after the psychological phenomenon first discovered during an experiment conducted in 1958, The Hawthorne Effect explores the inclination shown by individuals to alter their behaviour when they are aware that they are being watched. Chabala’s own investigation takes the form of experimental portraiture.
As his subjects pose and are gazed at by the photographer, the dynamic between the two is confronted and contorted by spontaneous and playful directions given by Chabala. Purposefully disrupting the conscious and subconscious nature of this dynamic, the artist captures moments previously unforeseen in his chosen subjects’ relationships with his lens.
The resulting dynamic range of poses, moods, movements and expressions, all of which emphasise exploration and play, represent a visual anthropology created by the dynamism and emphatic spontaneity Chabala has sought: the exploration of an undefined aesthetic.
Alexis Chabala studied Fine Art and Photography in Belgium before moving to London in 1997. His successful career as a commercial photographer has given him time to dedicate to both commissioned work and personal projects. He is dedicated to reframing the Black experience, evident in his passionate portrayal of people through dynamic and innovative portraiture.