Dominance, Codependence, and Submission

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Pieter Hugo is a man’s man type of photographer. He’s from South Africa, currently living in Cape Town and his images are unapologetic. And incredible. He specializes in portraiture and my favorite exhibition of his to date is “The Hyena and Other Men”. These images document men from Nigeria who perform with wild animals such as hyenas, baboons, snakes, etc. I believe Pieter Hugo best describers what it is that is so inciting about the relationships he has photographed: “I look back at the notebooks I had kept while with them. The words ‘dominance’, ‘codependence’ and ‘submission’ kept appearing. These pictures depict much more than an exotic group of travelling performers in West Africa. The motifs that linger are the fraught relationships we have with ourselves, with animals and with nature.”

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Created over the past eight years, Pieter Hugo’s series Kin confronts complex issues of colonization, racial diversity and economic disparity in Hugo’s homeland of South Africa. These subjects are common to the artist’s past projects in Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Botswana; however, this time, Hugo’s attention is focused on his conflicted relationship with the people and environs closest to home.

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