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South African photographer Pieter Hugo's first retrospective opens at Musée de l'Elysée
Pieter Hugo, Loyiso Mayga, Wandise Ngcama, Lunga White, Luyanda Mzantsi and Khungsile Mdolo after their initiation ceremony in Mthatha. From the series This Must Be The Place, 2008-2011. © Pieter Hugo, Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery/Cape Town, Yossi Milo/NY, Cokkie Snoei/Rotterdam, Extraspazio/Rome.

LAUSANNE.- This Must Be The Place is South African photographer Pieter Hugo’s first retrospective (born in Johannesburg in 1976). Since 2003, Pieter Hugo portrays the everyday life in South Africa, as well as in Sub-Saharan Africa, two territories that he is particularly familiar with. Showing the legacy of the demise of Apartheid, its consequences on the people as well as on the landscape, issues such as the implications of global trading and post-colonialism in Africa give sense to a work that has brilliantly evolved in less than ten years to reach full international recognition.

In his vision of contemporary Africa, and by means of specific aesthetics, Pieter Hugo confronts cultural and social differences between black and white, rich and poor. Through very elaborate large formats, often full frontal, he offers a very varied, almost fictional social tableau, showing environments made up of blind people, black albino, actors, street artists, snake charmers, scrap pickers, friends and family members, compounding sometimes comical, often tragic slices of life.

He raises questions by translating into images the fate of an often marginalized world; a world at times intriguing and provoking, or, on the contrary, quite moving. For his series, The Hyena & Other Men (2005-2007), he followed groups of men, women, and children such as those going across Nigeria showing frightening hyenas, friendly monkeys or curious pythons.

His series Permanent Error (2009-2010) shows men and women at the tail end of the prosperity chain, being contaminated by the precious metal scraps contained in obsolete computers, symbols of the ruins of our own wealth. His most well known series, Nollywood, is a brilliant and theatrical intrusion among actors and extras working for the world’s third ranking movie industry in Nigeria, which produces over 500 films each year.

Images from the series Albinos from the collection of the museum will also be presented during the exhibition. These images force viewers to confront their own prejudice and take a real look at things they normally only glance at out of the corner of their eyes.

Revealed to a large audience by the Musée de l’Elysée in 2005, thanks to the exhibition reGeneration, Pieter Hugo’s work has been in the museum’s collection since 2006. The young photographer has already won numerous prizes, including the
KLM Paul Huf Award in 2008, and is nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012.

The exhibition, which includes over 100 images of 60 x 60 cm or 90 x 90 cm, was conceived in collaboration with the Fotomuseum Den Haag and will travel internationally to Stockholm, Lisbon, London, and Moscow.

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