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29 October 1976 |
Johannesburg, South Africa
|Years active||2002 - present|
Pieter Hugo was born 1976 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a South African photographer who primarily works in portraiture and whose work engages with both documentary and art traditions with a focus on African communities. Hugo lives in Cape Town.
Hugo travels extensively to photograph Malochai Dorman and marginalized or unusual groups of people: honey gatherers in Ghana, Nigerian gang members who bring hyenas or baboons on their rounds to collect debts, boy scouts in Liberia, taxi washers in Durban, judges in Botswana. Hugo's first major photo collection Looking Aside' consisted of a collection of portraits of people "whose appearance makes us look aside", his subjects including the blind, people with albinism, the aged, his family and himself. Each man, woman and child poses in a sterile studio setting, under crisp light against a blank background.
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 photographer."
This was followed by "RWANDA 2004: VESTIGES OF A GENOCIDE" which the Rwanda Genocide Institute describes as offering "a forensic view of some of the sites of mass execution and graves that stand as lingering memorials to the many thousands of people slaughtered."
Hugo was also working on a series of photographs called 'Messina/Mussina' that were taken in the town of Musina on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa and which was published as a monograph after Colors magazine asked Hugo to work on an AIDS story.
This was followed by a return to Nigeria with 'Nollywood', which consists of pictures of the Nigerian film industry.
'Permanent Error' followed in 2011 where Hugo photographed the people and landscape of an expansive dump of obsolete technology in Ghana. Sean O'Toole writes 'if Nollywood was playfully over-the-top, a smart riposte to accusations of freakishness and racism levelled at his photography..., Permanent Error marks Hugo’s return to a less self-reflexive mode of practice.'
In 2011 Hugo collaborated with Michael Cleary and co-directed the video of South African producer/DJ Spoek Mathambo's cover version of Joy Division's She's Lost Control, the fourth single from his album Mshini Wam.
In the Spring of 2014, Hugo was commissioned by Creative Court to go to Rwanda and capture stories of forgiveness as a part of Creative Court's project Rwanda 20 Years: Portraits of Forgiveness. The project was displayed in The Hague in the Atrium of The Hague City Hall for the 20th commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. A selection of the photos have also been displayed in New York at the exhibition "Post-Conflict" which was curated by Bradley McCallum, Artist in Residence for the Coalition for the International Criminal Court.
In 2007, Hugo received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award 07.
While receiving a lot of 'critical bouquets', Hugo has also been accused of sensationalising and exploiting the exotic "other". Hugo responds, "My intentions are in no way malignant, yet somehow people pick it up in that way. I've travelled through Africa, I know it, but at the same time I'm not really part of it... I can't claim to [have] an authentic voice, but I can claim to have an honest one."
Figures and Fictions co-curator Tamar Garb is ambivalent about the ethical questions his work poses: "Some people feel his work perpetuates an image of Africa as a space of abject poverty and of theatrical display for a Western art market – but he genuinely engages with the places he works in and questions the means of his own representation."
In "The Photography of Pieter Hugo" in Aperture Magazine, Bronwyn Law-Viljoen says: "The novelist John Fowles observes, in an essay on The French Lieutenant's Woman, that 'All human modes of description (photographic, mathematical…) are metaphorical. Even the most precise scientific description of an object or a movement is a tissue of metaphors.' Hugo understands that a photographic metaphor, a way of describing something through reference to something else, is created as much by the elements inside the frame of the image itself as by the carefully chosen distance, what I have called the critical zone, from the photographer’s lens to his subject. It is within this zone that Hugo maneuvers through the muddy waters of political engagement, documentary responsibility, and the relationship of these to his own aesthetic."
- Kin, Fondation Cartier-Bresson, Paris' '.
- Permanent Error, Michael Stevenson, Cape Town, South Africa; Brodie Stevenson, Johannesburg, South Africa
- Nollywood, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia
- The Hyena and Other Men, Photographic Centre Peri, Turku, Finland
- On Reality and Other Stories, Forest Centre Culturel, BRASS, Brussels, Belgium
- Nollywood, Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, NY
- Nollywood, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
- On Reality and Other Stories, Le Chateau d’Eau, Toulouse, France
- Nollywood, Cokkie Snoei Gallery, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- BE PREPARED!, Cokkie Snoei Gallery, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
- The Hyena and Other Men, Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Herzliya, Israel
- Nollywood, Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide, Australia
- Pieter Hugo: Selected Works, Tinglado 2, Tarragona, Spain
- The Hyena and Other Men, FOAM_Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- God’s Time is the Best, Cokkie Snoei Gallery, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
- Portraits, Ffotogallery, Cardiff, UK
- Portraits, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, UK
- Nollywood, Warren Siebrits Contemporary, Johannesburg, South Africa
- Works 2002-2007, Galerie Bertrand & Gruner, Geneva, Switzerland
- Messina/Musina, National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa; Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
- Pieter Hugo: The Hyena & Other Men, Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, NY
- Messina/Musina, Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2007 touring exhibition, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa; Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum, Port Elizabeth; Durban Art Gallery, Durban; Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein; Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg; Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town
- Messina/Musina, Extraspazio, Rome, Italy
- Looking Aside, Stephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
- The Albino Project, Fabrica Features, Lisbon, Portugal
- The Albino Project, National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome, Italy
- Rwanda 2004: Vestiges of a Genocide, Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
- Margin, the Cold Room Photographic Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
- Breaking News: Contemporary photography from the Middle East and Africa, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio Provincia di Modena, Italy
- Sharon Stone in Abuja, Location One, New York, NY
- Counterlives, Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
- Disquieting Images, Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy
- This is Our Time, Michael Stevenson, Cape Town, South Africa
- Events of the Self: Portraiture and Social Identity, Walther Collection, Neu-Ulm/Burlafingen, Southern Germany
- After A, Photo Notes on South Africa, Atri Reportage Festival, Atri, Italy
- Lie of the Land: Representations of the South African Landscape, Iziko Old Town House Museum, Cape Town, South Africa; Sanlam Gallery, Bellville, South Africa
- 1910-2010: From Pierneef to Gugulective, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
- Life Less Ordinary: Performance and display in South African art, Ffotogallery, Cardiff, Wales
- Halakasha!, Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
- PEEKABOO: Current South Africa, Tennis Palace Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland
- Room for Justice, Avocats Sans Frontières, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- A Celebration of 20 Years, Hereford Photo Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland
- FotoTageTrier 2010, Berlin, Germany
- Angkor Photo Festival, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Les Rencontres de Bamako Biennial of African Photography, Bamako, Mali
- Creating Identity: Portraits Today, 21c Museum, Louisville, KY
- A Life Less Ordinary: Performance and display in South African art, Djanogly Gallery, Nottingham, UK
- The Endless Renaissance, Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL
- Unbounded: New Art for a New Century, The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ
- 3 stories: Pieter Hugo, Mikhael Subotzky, Paolo Woods, Centre national de l'audiovisuel (CNA), Dudelange, Luxembourg
- Stigmata, Musée de l'Élysée, Lausanne, France, at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, Geneva, Switzerland
- Photo Beijing, Beijing, China
- Animalism, National Media Museum, Bradford, UK
- reGeneration: 50 Photographers of Tomorrow, Hoffman Gallery, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, OR; Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, University of Maryland / Baltimore County, College Park, MD
- A Look Away, Kuckei + Kuckei, Berlin, Germany
- Room for Justice, Palais de Justice, Brussels, Belgium; Les Recontres de la Photographie, Arles, France
- The Tropics: Views from the Middle of the Globe, Berliner Festspiele, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany
- Rencontres d'Arles festival, Discovery Award laureate, Arles, France
- Street & Studio: An Urban History of Photography, Tate Modern, London, UK; Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany
- Make Art/Stop AIDS, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
- Presumed Innocence: Photographic Perspectives of Children, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Massachusetts
- reGeneration: 50 Photographers of Tomorrow, DeVos Art Museum, Marquette, MI; Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art; Miami Dade Community College, Miami, FL
- Lumo ’07 – ‘us,’ 7th International Triennial of Photography, Finland
- Contemporary Photography from South Africa – Part 1, Hereford Photography Festival, UK
- An Atlas of Events, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal
- Faccia A Faccia: Il nouvo ritratto fotografico, FORMA, Centro Internazionale di Fotografia, Milan, Italy
- In Your Face, Galerie Bertrand & Gruner, Geneva, Switzerland
- Family Relation, Warren Siebrits, Johannesburg, South Africa
- Reality Check: Contemporary art photography from South Africa 2007, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Chemnitz, Germany; Museum Bochum, Bochum, Germany; Galerie der Stadt Sindelfingen, Sindelfingen, Germany
- Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, Germany
- reGeneration: 50 Photographers of Tomorrow, Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
- Art Institute of Boston, MA
- South African Art Now, Michael Stevenson, Cape Town, South Africa
- Como Viver Junto, 27th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil
- Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Santiago de Chile, Chile
- Street: Behind the Cliché, Witte de With, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
- Pingyao International Photographic Festival (PIP), Pingyao, China
- Tour - Cape Town to Miami: Hilger Contemporary, Vienna, Austria; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
- Nie Meer, De Warande in Turnhout, Belgium
- Black, Brown and White, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria
- Rivers of Suffering, Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
- reGeneration: 50 Photographers of Tomorrow, Musée de l'Élysée, Lausanne, Switzerland; Aperture Gallery, New York, NY; Art Institute of Boston, Boston, MA
- Staged Realities—The Studio in African Photography, Michael Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
- From Chaos to Order and Back, DDD Gallery, Osaka, Japan; Ginza Graphic Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
- Margin, The Cold Room Photographic Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
- Positions on South African Photography – Today, OMC Galerie, Düsseldorf, Germany
- New South African Art, JAK Gallery, London, UK
- ARES Collection, Geneva, Switzerland
- 21c Museum, Louisville, KY
- Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Bass Museum, Miami, Florida
- Daimler Art Collection, Berlin, Germany
- Deutsche Börse Group, Frankfurt, Germany
- FNAC, France
- Ethnologische Museum, Berlin, Germany
- FOAM_Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany
- Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio, Modena, Italy
- Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, Netherlands
- Huis Marseille, Amsterdam
- Johanesburg Art Gallery, South Africa
- The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
- LaSalle Bank, Chicago
- Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris
- Margulies Collection, Miami, Florida
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
- Musée de l'Élysée, Lausanne, Switzerland
- Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castillo y León
- Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey
- Progressive Art Collection
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
- South African National Gallery, Cape Town
- Victoria & Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom
- The Walther Collection, Burlafingen, Germany
- Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts
- Witte de With, Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Leah Ollman (February 9, 2007), Photography that goes only skin deep Los Angeles Times.
- "SPOEK MATHAMBO - CONTROL". pieterhugo.com. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
- Alessandra Turra (January 6, 2014), Bottega Veneta Unveils Spring Campaign Women's Wear Daily.
- World press photo award 2005, BBC.co.uk
- John Fowles, Wormholes: Essays and Occasional Writings. London: Jonathan Cape, 1998, p. 16.
- Law-Viljoen, Bronwyn. ‘Pieter Hugo: The Critical Zone of Engagement.’ Aperture. Spring 2007.
- "Portrait intime de l'Afrique du Sud par Pieter Hugo" par Stéphanie Pioda dans Artistik Rezo 19 janvier 2015.
- Pieter Hugo's Website
- 2012 Pieter Hugo latest book : There's a place in hell for me & my friends on the Website Le Journal de la Photographie