Sunday, August 28, 2011

PIETER HUGO for AUT St Paul St, January 2012 workshop

It was a pleasure to meet Pieter Hugo at the Kassel Photobook Festival back in June. When I talked to Pieter about the AUT workshop series he jumped at the chance to come and contribute.

Pieter Hugo was born 1976 and grew up in Cape Town, 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 has called himself "a political-with-a-small-p photographer... it's hard not to be as soon as you pick up a camera in South Africa". He believes that "the power of photography is inherently voyeuristic but I want that desire to be confronted." He also states that he is "deeply suspicious of the power of photography."

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. 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 fueled 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."

His most recognized work is the series called THE HYENA AND OTHER MEN, published as a monograph and has received a great deal of critical attention.
Hugo has also been working on a series of photographs called MESSINA/MUSSINA that were made in the town of Musina on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa and also published as a monograph.

This was followed by a return to Nigeria with NOLLYWOOD, photographs 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. Critic Sean O'Toole writes "if NOLLYWOOD was playfully over-the-top, a smart riposte to accusations of freakishness and racism leveled at his photography... PERMANENT ERROR marks Hugo’s return to a less self-reflexive mode of practice."

Pieter Hugo is a fresh and exciting voice is contemporary photography. Those who saw his show of NOLLYWOOD photographs at Te Tuhi in February / March I'm sure will agree.

Joining Pieter at the 2012 workshop will be one of Europe's most influential and highly regarded photography curators. As chief curator photography for a noted and well known contemporary art museum his responsibilities include building one of Europe's most significant and substantial photography collections and mounting year after year stunning photography shows. More about this very soon.......

For more information you can contact either me at: or Neil Cameron at AUT School of Art and Design,

Photographs from Pieter Hugo's NOLLYWOOD series

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