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Pieter Hugo
From the series There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends, 2011 - Archival pigment ink © Pieter Hugo, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery
Pieter Hugo
Pieter Hugo

Pieter Hugo

Country: South Africa
Birth: 1976

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 is self-taught, having picked up a camera aged 10. He remembers the first image he printed, which was a homeless person in Johannes. After working in the film industry in Cape Town, Pieter Hugo spent a two-year Residency at Fabrica, Treviso, Italy.

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 look to be confronted." He also states that he is "deeply suspicious of the power of photography." Early on in his career he noticed that, "he often found himself being critically scrutinized by the subject he was photographing. It was then that he decided to switch to a larger and more cumbersome format of photography, one that would require negotiating consent and dialogue with the person being photographed - a more sedate and contemplative approach."

He is known to use a Hasselblad camera and regularly shoots in the 4x5 format. His influences range from South African photojournalist David Goldblatt to Boris Mikhailov. However, his work reacts against 'the culture of realism that defined South African photography in the struggle years.' 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 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." His most recognized work is the series called The Hyena & Other Men and which was published as a monograph. It has received a great deal of attention.

Hugo won first prize in the Portraits section of the World Press Photo 2005 for a portrait of a man with a hyena. In 2007, Hugo received the Standard Bank Young Artist Award 07. 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. At the time Colors magazine asked Hugo to work on an AIDS story and he was fascinated by the marginal aspect of the town. 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 leveled at his photography..., Permanent Error marks Hugo’s return to a less self-reflexive mode of practice."

In 2011 Hugo collaborated with Michel 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.

Commissioned by Italian luxury label Bottega Veneta, Hugo photographed models Amanda Murphy and Mark Cox for the brand’s spring/summer 2014 campaign, with the images shot in a wood in New Jersey.

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.

Flat Noodle Soup (2016) chronicles Hugo's lengthy engagement with the city of Beijing, exploring how concerns with expressing personal identity within societal norms and pressures are universal and transnational. La Cucaracha is a 2019 body of work made during four trips to Mexico over a two-year period. The photographic series explores Hugo's perception of the flamboyant and violent environment of Mexico with overt art historical references to the nation's visual canon of pre-colonial customs and revolutionary ideology.

Source: Wikipedia


Between 2006 and 2013, Pieter Hugo worked on a project that he called Kin. This deals with home, proximity, identification and a sense of belonging – something that, in South Africa, he has always experienced as being critical and riddled with conflict: How can one live in this country, which only shed its colonial heritage relatively recently, and which is plagued by racism and a growing chasm between rich and poor? Hugo shot photos at home, in townships and at historical sites, taking portraits of his pregnant wife, of domestic servants and of homeless people. The calm and clearly composed shots show beauty and ugliness, wealth and poverty, private and public, historical and topical. Without either idealising or dramatizing the subject matter, they paint a portrait of the complex society in South Africa today.

This is because any notion of harmony in the “Rainbow Nation” is wishful thinking. Even twenty years after the end of apartheid, black and white South Africans are still very much divided. In the series of 94 platinum prints There Is A Place in Hell for Me and My Friends (2011-2012), Pieter Hugo explores the supposed differences between skin colours. To do so, he took portraits of himself and South African friends. The close-ups, generally in the form of frontal head and shoulder portraits, were digitally processed afterwards. The image manipulation, whereby the colour channels were translated into grey tones, emphasise the pigmentation of the skin, using UV irradiation to render visible skin damage and small blood vessels directly beneath the skin. The results are quite astounding: on these photographs, all people are coloured. There is no longer a difference between “white” and “black” skin, but rather a variety of individual shades. The portraits show the powerful presence of each individual and, at the same time, the fragility of all people and the softness and utter vulnerability of their outer shell.

With his various photo series, Pieter Hugo has put together an impressive body of work in the space of just a few years. Through this intense perception of corporeality, he captures the complexity and inconsistency of society. Constants in his work include seriousness, neutrality and an underlying respect for his protagonists, whose dignity always remains intact. In this regard, his works are comparable with the monumental portrait works of August Sanders, who created a contemporary picture of the Weimar Republic with his large-scale cycle “Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts” (People of the 20th Century).

Source: Priska Pasquer


 

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Ross has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1985), a city of Easton, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Grant (1988), the Charles Pratt Memorial Award of $25,000 (1992), and the Andrea Frank Foundation Award (1998). Monographs and exhibition catalogs of her work have been published internationally. Her books include Contemporaries (1995), Portraits (1996), Portraits of the Hazleton Public Schools (2006) and Protest the War (2007), "exploring such themes as the innocence of youth, the faces of political power, and the emotional toll of war". John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art in New York selected Ross' work for the first exhibition in the New Photography series. In 2011, Die Photographische Sammlung in Cologne organized a retrospective exhibition of Ross's work which traveled to the Kunstmuseum Kloster in Madeburg and the Foundation A Stichting, Brussels.Source: Wikipedia Since the early 1980s, the American photographer Judith Joy Ross has dedicated her work to the medium of portraiture. She is best known for her sensitive, deeply personal, yet authentic portraits of various groups of people at the center of American society: school children and teachers, soldiers, visitors to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and U.S. Congress members of the Republican and Democratic parties. The photographs, which Ross contextualizes by arranging them in series, offer both an aesthetic and a humanitarian approach to photography. Judith Joy Ross’s work shows references to photographers like August Sander, Eugène Atget, Walker Evans or Diane Arbus in her documentary style and her use of technical equipment. She photographs with an 8x10 inch view camera, which due to long exposure times and the need to set up a tripod forces her to concentrate on her subjects and does not allow for snapshots. The subjects are usually strangers to the photographer and so the photograph itself becomes an intense encounter. August Sander is often mentioned as a major influence. Both, Ross and Sander focus on facial expressions, gestures and posture of their subjects. However, while Sander’s famous photographs from the series People of the 20th Century is staged and aims at categorizing certain social groups, Ross does not give directions to her subjects and thus achieves an immediacy that characterizes her approach and style. It makes the viewer think about the inner reality of the person by using their own social experience in order to relate to the people she portraits, thus stressing the individuality of each subject over their association with a specific group. Judith Joy Ross describes her intention as follows: “The world outside oneself is bigger than ones idea of it. One tries to align oneself with that bigger world in making a picture”.Source: Galerie Thomas Zander At present, Ross is suffering from an eye problem following pre-pandemic surgery that has left her with double vision. “I can photograph,” she say, “but it’s hard to take a walk.” One senses that photography gave her a way to be in the world. “I’m just interested in people, but I don’t want to get too close to them,” she says. “I keep them at arm’s length with the camera. It’s like a magic charm. It’s such an intense pleasure to photograph strangers because, in that moment, you can see them in such an intimate way. It’s kind of crazy, but I love some of those people even though I have never seen them again.”Source: The Guardian
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Exclusive Interview with Patrick Cariou
For more than 25 years, French photographer Patrick Cariou has traveled to places around the globe, documenting people living on the fringes of society. Whether photographing surfers, gypsies, Rastafarians or the rude boys of Kingston, Cariou celebrates those who meet the struggles of life with honor, dignity and joy. Bringing together works from his groundbreaking monographs including Surfers, Yes Rasta, Trenchtown Love and Gypsies, Patrick Cariou: Works 1985–2005 (published by Damiani) takes us on a scenic journey around the world, offering an intimate and captivating look at cultures that distance themselves from the blessings and curses of modernity.
Exclusive Interview with Niko J. Kallianiotis
Niko J. Kallianiotis' Athênai in Search of Home (published by Damiani) presents photos taken in and around Athens, the city in which he grew up. The images reflect the artist's eagerness to assimilate back into a home that feels at once foreign and familiar. Throughout the years the city and the surrounding territories have experienced their share of socio-economic struggles and topographic transformations that have altered its identity. The city of Athens in Kallianiotis' photographs is elliptically delineated as a vibrant environment that binds together luxury and social inequality. The photographer depicts a city in which the temporal and the spatial elements often clash with each other while conducting his research for a home that has changed over the years as much as he did.
Exclusive Interview with Ave Pildas
My new book STAR STRUCK focuses on the people and places of Hollywood Boulevard. Soon after I moved to Los Angeles in the '70s, I started shooting there. I was working at Capital Records, just a block and a half away, as a one of four art directors. At lunchtime, we would go out to eat at the Brown Derby, Musso, and Franks, or some other local restaurant, and I got to observe all the activity that was occurring on Hollywood Boulevard. It was amazing and it was fun, even though the location was ''on the turn''.
Exclusive Interview with Elaine Mayes
In The Haight-Ashbury Portraits, 1967-1968 (published by Damiani) during the waning days of the Summer of Love, Elaine Mayes embarked on a set of portraits of youth culture in her neighborhood. Mayes was a young photographer living in San Francisco during the 1960s. She had photographed the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and, later that year the hippie movement had turned from euphoria to harder drugs, and the Haight had become less of a blissed-out haven for young people seeking a better way of life than a halfway house for runaway teens.
Exclusive Interview with Theophilus Donoghue
A new release, Seventy-thirty (published by Damiani) depicts humanity's various faces and expressions, from metropolitans to migrants, unseen homeless to celebrities such as Robert De Niro, Muhammad Ali, Rene Magritte, Janis Joplin, and Andy Warhol. Steve Schapiro photographs early New York skateboarders while Theophilus Donoghue documents current Colombian breakdancers. Alternately profound and playful, father and son's photographs capture a vast range of human emotions and experiences. For this project, Schapiro selected images from the 60s civil rights movement and, with Donoghue, provided photos from today's Black Lives Matter protests and environmental rallies.
Exlusive Interview with Jessica Todd Harper about her Book Here
Like 17th-century Dutch painters who made otherwise ordinary interior scenes appear charged with meaning, Pennsylvania-based photographer Jessica Todd Harper looks for the value in everyday moments. Her third monograph Here (Published by Damiani) makes use of what is right in front of the artist, Harper shows how our unexamined or even seemingly dull surroundings can sometimes be illuminating
Exclusive Interview with Roger Ballen about his Book Boyhood
In Boyhood (published by Damiani) Roger Ballen's photographs and stories leads us across the continents of Europe, Asia and North America in search of boyhood: boyhood as it is lived in the Himalayas of Nepal, the islands of Indonesia, the provinces of China, the streets of America. Each stunning black-and-white photograph-culled from 15,000 images shot during Ballen's four-year quest-depicts the magic of adolescence revealed in their games, their adventures, their dreams, their Mischief. More of an ode than a documentary work, Ballen's first book is as powerful and current today as it was 43 years ago-a stunning series of timeless images that transcend social and cultural particularities.
Exclusive Interview with Kim Watson
A multi-dimensional artist with decades of experience, Kim Watson has written, filmed, and photographed subjects ranging from the iconic entertainers of our time to the ''invisible'' people of marginalized communities. A highly influential director in music videos' early days, Watson has directed Grammy winners, shot in uniquely remote locations, and written across genres that include advertising, feature films for Hollywood studios such as Universal (Honey), MTV Films, and Warner Brothers, and publishers such as Simon & Schuster. His passionate marriage of art and social justice has been a life-long endeavor, and, in 2020, after consulting on Engagement & Impact for ITVS/PBS, Kim returned to the streets to create TRESPASS, documenting the images and stories of LA's unhoused. TRESPASS exhibited at The BAG (Bestor Architecture Gallery) in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, September 17, 2022 – October 11, 2022.
Exclusive Interview with Julia Dean, Founder of the L.A. Project
Julia Dean, Founder of the Los Angeles Center of Photography, and its executive director for twenty-two years, began The L.A. Project in 2021. A native Nebraskan, Julia has long sought to create a special project where love for her adopted L.A., and her passion for documentary photography can be shared on a grander scale.
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