Junior Ofokansi, Chetachi Ofokansi, Mpompo Ofokansi. Enugu, Nigeria

Pieter Hugo2008

Mudam Luxembourg – The Contemporary Art Museum of Luxembourg

Mudam Luxembourg – The Contemporary Art Museum of Luxembourg
1499, Luxembourg

After his initial work as a photographic reporter, the South African photographer Pieter Hugo turned to topics which provide an insight into African realities under the surface and away from the widespread clichés. In his series Looking Aside (2003 - 2006), Hugo showed portraits of people of whom the artist said that we generally turn our eyes away when we see them: albinos, the blind and the old. In Rwanda 2004: Vestiges of a genocide (2004) he captured the cold brutality of reality in laconic photographs of mass graves of the victims of genocide, whereas for his series The Hyena and other men (2006) he accompanied a group of wandering showmen who performed with their tame hyenas, monkeys and snakes. For Nollywood (2008), Hugo went to Enugu, a provincial capital in the east of Nigeria which is the second centre of the Nigerian film industry after Lagos. The film industry in Nigeria has developed since the 1990s, when it was first called Nollywood, and is now the second most prolific film industry in the world (after India and before the USA) with about 2.000 films a year. The films are usually made on an extremely tight budget and in a very short time, and they now reach an audience of millions throughout Africa on DVD and TV, although they are almost completely unknown in Europe. They tell romantic, comic, tragic, violent and superstitious tales, usually with exaggerated drama, but they sometimes also deal with political and social subjects. Initially Hugo wanted to take photographs on the film sets, but he had to abandon this plan and then he asked his models to adopt typical poses from Nollywood films which he had noticed during his preparation. The resulting “false” stills have a surreal atmosphere, they are half way between documentation and fiction and they tell stories which are difficult to grasp.


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