Archival pigment print, signed, titled, dated and editioned 2/8 in pencil in the margin
Pieter Hugo (b.1976) is a highly sought after and successful South African photographic artist living in Cape Town. He is self-taught, having first picked up a camera when he was ten. He went straight from high school to work as a documentary photographer. Hugo came of age as part of the post-apartheid generation of photographers, fighting to represent their country on their own terms and control their cultural identity whilst being acutely aware of the western gaze. His work is inherently imbued with political connotations. Although Hugo claims that he is 'Political with a small p' he acknowledges that political is a hard label to avoid in South Africa where, in the shadow of apartheid, ideas of race, identity and culture are so loaded. His work is unflinching in its honesty, managing to pull at the tangled threads of western sentiment and the brutal and uncomfortable truths of a struggling people in transition. He cites veteran South African photographer David Goldblatt as an influence in his work which is honest, at times brutal but never cruel. This arresting work is part of his 2003 series; 'portraits of people with Albinism'. His work is preoccupied with representing his continent's marginalised people, including albinos, the blind, the elderly, gang members and AID victims. His ongoing series 'Looking Aside' also uses albino subjects but this time his subjects pose in a sterile studio setting making the focus entirely on their appearance. Hugo's images of South Africans with albinism are particularly poignant and metaphorical in a country where colour is inextricably linked with identity. Explaining his interest in the marginal he has said, "My homeland is Africa, but I'm white. I feel African, whatever that means, but if you ask anyone in South Africa if I'm African, they will almost certainly say no. I don't fit into the social topography of my country and that certainly fuelled why I became a photographerHugo's work features in many prominent collections, including; Museum of Modern Art, V&A Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, J Paul Getty Museum, Walther Collection, Deutsche BGroup, Folkwang Museum and Huis Marseille. He has had major museum solo exhibitions at; The Hague Museum of Photography, Musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne, Ludwig Museum in Budapest, Fotografiska in Stockholm, MAXXI in Rome and the Institute of Modern Art Brisbane. He has also participated in numerous group exhibitions at institutions including Tate Modern, the Folkwang Museum, FundaçCalouste Gulbenkian, and the SPaulo Bienal. Hugo received the Discovery Award at the Rencontres d'Arles Festival and the KLM Paul Huf Award in 2008, the Seydou Keita Award at the Rencontres de Bamako African Photography Biennial in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Deutsche BPhotography Prize 2012. His most recognised work is the arresting and complex series 'The Hyena & other Men' (2005 - 2007) the monograph of which sold out in a matter of weeks. .