While we have featured the work of Pieter Hugo here on Dangerous Minds in the past, I thought I’d pull it all together into one piece so that those of you who are not familiar with this amazing artist’s work could experience it now.
There aren’t enough adjectives in my vocabulary to do justice to the photography of Pieter Hugo. “Powerful,” “disturbing,” “visceral,” “empathetic,” “sad,” and “beautiful” are all appropriately descriptive, but the term “a picture is worth a thousand words” has never been truer than in case of this South African’s visual genius. So I’ll let the pictures do the talking after I share a bit of background on Hugo’s work
In the series “The Hyenas and Other Men,” Hugo documents the Gadawan Kura’ (hyena handlers/guides) who live in the shanty towns of Lagos, Nigeria and make a living by performing on the streets with hyenas that they’ve captured in the wild.
Hugo describes encountering and working with the hyena handlers:
In Abuja we found them living on the periphery of the city in a shantytown - a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons. It turned out that they were a group of itinerant minstrels, performers who used the animals to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicines. The animal handlers were all related to each other and were praising a tradition passed down from generation to generation. I spent eight days traveling with them.
In another series of photographs, Hugo evokes aspects of Nigerian films (Nollywood) in haunting photographs that recreate the surreality of cultures intermingling - Hollywood pop iconography (particularly horror imagery) mashed-up with Africa’s long and deep traditions of myth-making. Sometimes the lie is truer than the truth in these tableaus in which Hugo…
[...] asked a team of actors and assistants to recreate Nollywood myths and symbols as if they were on movie sets, Hugo initiated the creation of a verisimilar reality.”
As if Hugo’s photographs weren’t testimony enough to his extraordinary talents, he directed a very very cool video, Control...
[...] a “darkwave township house” cover of the Joy Division classic “She’s Lost Control” – is the fourth single to be taken from South African producer/DJ Spoek Mathambo’s album, Mshini Wam. The video was shot in Langa, Cape Town was made using a cast made up mainly of kids from the local dance troupe, Happy Feet.”
If you’re as impressed by these photos and video (how could you not be?), check out Hugo’s website where you can feast your eyes on more of his amazing visual gift.
More of Hugo’s photography after the jump…