Hackney, though crime-ridden, poor and dilapidated, is also now one of London's trendiest neighbourhoods and home to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Down the road from the riots of 2011, contemporary design studios and modernist apartment blocks pepper the landscape; totems of middle-class gentrification.
The underprivileged teenager growing up in Hackney, with seemingly limited horizons and ambitions is increasingly dislocated from this progressive society, defined by the new urban hipsters who frequent the cool bars and expensive cappuccino café's springing up in the same streets. These worlds co-exist side-by-side but entirely separate, creating bizarre juxtapositions of wealth and poverty, aspiration and hopelessness.
Born in East Africa, Zed Nelson graduated from Westminster University, London, with a degree in photography and filmmaking. Having gained international recognition and awards as a documentary photographer, Nelson's recent work adopts an increasingly considered, in-depth approach to reflect on contemporary social issues through long-term personal projects. His most recent book "Love Me", an investigation into the cultural and commercial forces that drive a global obsession with youth and beauty , was nominated for the 2011 Deutsche Borse Photography Prize. This five-year project, involving photography in 18 countries across five continents won First Prize in the 2010 Picture of the Year Awards and was also short-listed for the Leica European Publishers Award. Nelson's first book "Gun Nation", a disturbing reflection on of America's love affair with the gun, has become an important book in the canon of photography books and recognised by winning five major international prizes. "South Sudan – The Nation Makers", is Nelson's recent series of environmental portrait which reveal the new power structures of South Sudan's inexperienced ruling elite. The project has been nominated for the 2012 Prix Pictet Photography prize.