You think you're passionate about pizza? Artists Chloe Cahill and Ho Hai Tran have been chasing Pizza Huts nigh on three years and now there's a book documenting the obsession.
Chasing pizza, pizza hunting, hut watchers: these are all terms Chloe Cahill and Ho Hai Tran use daily for their Pizza Hunt project - an ongoing photographic series charting the second lives of Pizza Huts around the world.
"We used to drive past this one hut in Liverpool that's a Salvation Army now. It had the parking lot sign, the trapezoidal windows and a two-tiered roof. There was no doubt it used to be a Pizza Hut, it had just had a fresh lick of paint," says Cahill.
Curiosity drove the pair to seek out other former huts, first in Sydney and later around Australia, New Zealand and North America. Now they've travelled more than 80,000 kilometres by road and air, tracking down and photographing the huts for the $30,000 crowd-funded book, Pizza Hunt. The book will launch on 12 May with an exhibition of the series at Books Kinokuniya in Sydney.
"We always thought the story lent itself to being presented as a book," says Cahill. "The true impact of the series is when you see hut after hut after hut in all these different guises - some with a slight variance and some radically altered."
A number of the Pizza Hut buildings have second lives as restaurants, bottle shops, corner stores and funeral homes, but it's their shingled roofs that make them most recognisable. Australia got its first hut in 1970 in Belfield, New South Wales, but there's no single exhaustive record of how many there are world-wide. "It's like Carmen Sandiego," says Cahill. "People send us coordinates, photos from the road, vague recollections of seeing huts in certain places. It's Google detective work."
Cahill and Hai Tran only shoot the huts at sunrise and sunset - lending a whimsical, yet slightly eerie feel to the images. Only 750 of the cloth-bound Pizza Hunt books have been produced, 150 of which are special editions that come in a custom pizza box "clam shell" and feature a different cover.
"We self-funded the series, people from all over the world have funded the book, and the next steps are another story entirely," says Cahill. "We know that there's a bunch of huts in South America, so who knows where to next."
Pizza Hunt book launch, Thursday 12 May, 6pm, Wedge Gallery, Books Kinokuniya, Level 2, The Galeries, 500 George St, Sydney. Exhibition continues until 22 May, with a Q&A discussion with Cahill and Hai Tran about their ongoing hunt on Saturday, 21 May at midday.
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