Art March 12, 2010 By Jenna Martin

Pieter Hugo Emeka Uzzi, Enugu, Nigeria, 2009. All images from the series Nollywood. Digital C-Print © Pieter Hugo, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

nollywood title2 Pieter Hugo: the nollywood seriesSouth African photographer Pieter Hugo is known for his arresting and unsettling portraits of African life. For his latest series, Nollywood, he interpolates the burgeoning industry of Nigerian cinema into everyday scenarios to construct fictional surreal situations.
     Nollywood is the world’s third largest film industry, turning out some 1,000-2,000 videos for the home video market every year. Produced on shoestring budgets with a great deal of improvisation, movies are often made in the span of a week under very harsh and uncertain conditions. Featuring local actors in “real life” locations, the movies reflect everyday life. According to Federica Angelucci, curator of the Michael Stevenson Gallery, tragic narratives address familiar themes — romance, comedy, witchcraft, bribery, and prostitution. “The aesthetic is loud, violent, excessive; nothing is said, everything is shouted.”
     While working and traveling in West Africa, Hugo found it impossible not to watch these ubiquitous movies. At first mistaking them for soap operas, Hugo soon realized “that they were interesting in their own way, because they were in many respects among the first examples of contemporary, mass-media self-representation in Africa. These are movies made by Africans for Africans, with their own stories…”

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