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Pieter Hugo | the artist






The artist Pieter Hugo
Born 1976, Cape Town, South Africa.
Lives and works in Cape Town, .

Style and technique of the artist: Photography,


Biography and art, auction, artworks, interview, statement, website:

Pieter Hugo artworks on eBay
Original artworks, prints, exhibition posters, monographs, books, collectibles.

Notions of time and progress are collapsed in these photographs. There are elements in the images that fast-forward us to an apocalyptic end of the world as we know it, yet the alchemy on this site and the strolling cows recall a pastoral existence that rewinds our minds to a medieval setting. The cycles of history and the lifespan of our technology are both clearly apparent in this cemetery of artifacts from the industrialised world. We are also reminded of the fragility of the information and stories that were stored in the computers which are now just black smoke and melted plastic...

Pieter Hugo first learned of Nigeria’s Gadawan Kura, or hyena handlers, in 2003 when he received an image taken on a cell phone camera depicting several of these men with their beasts in the streets of Lagos. A newspaper in Hugo’s native South Africa published a similar image and identified the men as debt collectors, drug dealers, and thieves who enlisted hyenas as muscle in support of their criminal activities. With the help of friends in Nigeria, Hugo found the group in a shantytown outside of the capital, Abuja. They were not necessarily criminals, but rather what Hugo describes in an artist’s statement as “itinerant minstrels... a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons,” who subsist by staging performances and selling traditional medicine. Hugo traveled with the group for weeks at a time over the course of two years, taking a series of portraits of the men posing with their animals...

Hugo asked a team of actors and assistants to recreate Nollywood myths and symbols as if they were on movie sets. The photos document thus nothing but the fiction of creating badass fiction...

'I am six foot tall. I have blond hair and blue eyes. I stick out like a sore thumb in the locations I visit. I quickly realised that the traditional photojournalistic approach of capturing a fleeting moment wasn't going to work for me. Firstly, my reflexes are too slow, and secondly I am not a fly on the wall, I have a presence.'