pigment ink print on cotton-rag paper, 100 x 80cm
edition of 3 and 1 AP
In this arresting self-portrait, Pieter Hugo turns on himself the lens with which he recorded the faces of people with albinism in a series of portraits exhibited during 2004 at Fabrica Features in Lisbon, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome and Michael Stevenson in Cape Town. Hugo photographed volunteers in Africa, South America and Europe, intending to foreground the way in which viewers project their desires, fears, fantasies and repulsions onto people with the syndrome.
Asked to respond to allegations of voyeurism in this project, Hugo has said: ‘Ninety percent of the time, in the places I work, I am an outsider. Often I am as intently observed as the people I photograph. I am the novelty factor, not the other way round. These photographs are about an exchange that happens between me and the subjects’ (quoted by Sean O’Toole, ‘The big picture’, Sunday Times Lifestyle, 14 November 2004, p5). This photograph makes this statement manifest: it is a riposte to the critics, an obvious yet subtle turning of the tables to remind us that we are all extraordinary when subjected to the gaze of another.