Pieter Hugo's "Tribes" Hit Colette

Compelling New Work From the Feted South African Photographer

Pieter Hugo’s images are as meticulously staged as a 1950s family portrait, yet have a strange sense of compulsion, redolent of the most hard-hitting documentary photography. You stop, your eyes lock, you can’t look away. Hugo, who lives and works in Cape Town, became internationally renowned for his 2007 series, The Hyena and Other Men, (portraying a carnivalesque troupe of minstrels in Nigeria, with their menagerie of baboons, hyenas and pythons), which won the Rencontres d’Arles Discovery Award in 2008. A white South African, he often turns his camera on his country’s radical and marginalized citizens—such as AIDS victims in the morgue, white Afrikaans members of the Christian Motorcycle Association, and albinos—purposefully accentuating the spectacle of his subjects’ otherness and forcing the viewer to re-evaluate their own perceptions of African identity. For his first solo show in France, Hugo will exhibit at Parisian concept store Colette for the duration of the FIFA World Cup. On show will be three new series of portraits featuring boy scouts (self-assured in their immaculate uniforms), fanatical supporters of the Orlando Pirates (a South African football team) and Congolese catch wrestlers (whose powers lie in their spiritual might as much as their muscle)—three different “tribes” proudly displaying the dress codes and symbolic props that members use to articulate their particular identities. Pieter Hugo’s work is on show at Colette from May 31 through July 3. 



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