Pieter Hugo captures Nollywood
Pieter Hugo was born in 1976 and grew up in Cape Town. He underwent a two-year residency in 2002-3 at Fabrica in Treviso, Italy. He has held solo exhibitions at Michael Stevenson in Cape Town; Yossi Milo, New York; Extraspazio, Rome; the Museum of Modern Art, Rome; Fabrica Features, Lisbon; Bertrand & Gruner, Geneva; Stephen Cohen, Los Angeles; and Warren Siebrits, Johannesburg. Recent group exhibitions include An Atlas of Events at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (2007); Faccia A Faccia: Il nouvo ritratto fotografico at FORMA, Centro Internazionale di Fotografia, Milan (2007); the 27th São Paulo Bienal (2006); and Street: Behind the cliché at Witte de With, Rotterdam (2006). Hugo was included on ReGeneration: 50 Photographers of Tomorrow, 2005-2025 (Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne, and Aperture, New York), an exhibition identifying 50 young photographers who will be considered great by 2025, accompanied by a book published by Thames & Hudson. He won first prize in the Portraits section of the 2006 World Press Photo competition, and was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2007.
In his new body of work, Pieter Hugo explores the multi layered reality of the Nigerian film industry. Nollywood is, surprisingly, the third largest film industry in the world, releasing onto the market between 500 and 1 000 movies each year.
Nollywood produces movies on its own terms, telling stories that appeal to and reflect the lives of its public: it is a rare instance of self-representation in Africa. The continent has a rich tradition of story-telling that has been expressed abundantly through oral and written fiction, but has never been conveyed through the mass media before. Stars are local actors; plots confront the public with familiar situations of romance, comedy, witchcraft, bribery, prostitution. The narrative is over dramatic, deprived of happy endings, tragic. The aesthetic is loud, violent, excessive; nothing is said, everything is shouted.