Profile : Pieter Hugo
issue three : fear thy neighbour
South African photographer, Pieter Hugo's work devles into the heart of africa's outliers.
I have been a fan of Pieter Hugo's work for many years. His work both excites and terrifies me. Despite hailing from the same city and moving in mutual circles, I have yet to meet the man.
Having left my hometown (Cape Town, South Africa) over five years ago now, our mutual circle has shrunk and Hugo's work moved into the peripheral view of my life. Until recently, when I began exploring artist whose work focused on breaking down cultural and racial barriers to profile for this issue; Fear Thy Neighbour.
His works focus on marginalised or societal outliers, with a strong thread towards Africa and her people.
Looking back to his 2007 series, Messina/Mussina, a border town between South Africa and Zimbabwe. His family portraits offer the viewer an honest look into the lives of averaging South Africans' in their own homes.
In an interview in The Guardian; Africa as you've never seen it before in 2008, Hugo explains to journalist, Sean O'Hagan what motivates him to photograph the subjects he is drawn too:
Hugo is known the world over for his landscape and portrait work. He has been hailed as one of the most important photographers of the 21st Century. His 2009-10 series Permanent Error sees his ability to merge both subject and landscape into an evocative image that draws you in. These images also highlight the environmental plight of Ghana's techno-waste lands.
All shapes and sizes
His first solo exhibition in 2006, Look Aside, sees breathtaking portraits of men, women and children who's appearance make many look aside, while Hugo's portraits make us look long and hard at his subjects.
Young, old, blind, black, white: we are all just human beings and if we cannot cast on eyes on another without judgement or fear, it is only ourselves we have to be afraid of, for we are less than our potential.
Complex and Contradictory
His most recent solo show, Peripheral Dispatches showing at PRISKA PASQUER in Cologne, continues with the theme of marginalised people, but moves beyond the African continent. It features works from “1994,” “Californian Wildflowers” and “Flat Noodle Soup Talk” were produced in South Africa, Rwanda, California and Beijing and implores us all to fearing our fellow humans.
He is represented by London based photographic agency, We Folk.
Words by Khandiz Joni.