Like a latter-day beatnik, Chris Coekin (b. 1967) has been hitchhiking around the UK off and on for the past six years. Using a disposable camera to produce images as unpredictable as his journey ' and a medium format camera for his portraits ' Coekin has captured his adventures, the landscapes and the people he has encountered.
Through his photographs Coekin shows us crisp
packets, McDonald cartons and road kill ' the legacy of the 21st century lifestyle on the landscape. The portraits of the drivers who helped him on his way stand testament to the kindness of strangers - an antidote to the 'stranger danger' paranoia peddled by the media. His cardboard signs are his tickets to the
open road, while images of him standing abandoned by the road-side, are a poignant reminder of his vulnerability as a traveller.
Influenced by writers Laurie Lee and Jack Kerouac there is something romantic about Coekin's ambitions, while the photographs themselves reveal a more prosaic reality. And by adopting the name of the cult horror film The Hitcher Coekin shows a satisfyingly perverse sense of humour.
Chris Coekin's work is not just a portrait of people in the UK, or a comment on the state of the nation. It is part of a tradition where the artist is central to the work itself, and not just a detached observer. The Hitcher is testament to the blurring lines between the photographer and the conceptual artist ' as exemplified by Keith Arnatt.