Pieter Hugo   (b. 1976)
Archaebor Kerkula, Monrovia, Liberia, 2006

Pigment ink on cotton rag paper
112 x 112cm
Edition of 5 + 1 AP


63 x 61cm
Edition of 8 + 1 AP

Hugo's photographs of Boy Scouts in Monrovia, Liberia, form part of his ongoing portrait series, Presence. Throughout the series Hugo presents us with images of the unexpected, capturing the seemingly paradoxical elements that colour life in sub-Saharan Africa. Here, Boy Scouts - associated worldwide with a peaceful civil society - stand proud in Liberia, a country that has just emerged from its second civil war in less than two decades and whose previous president, Charles Taylor, is due to be tried for war crimes. In such a context, one might expect boys in uniforms to be child soldiers, and yet these dapper scouts are practising their motto, 'Be prepared', and the slogan 'Do a good turn daily'. Their uniforms are second-hand, donated by scout groups in more affluent countries, and although they are often the wrong size and come with existing badges, they are worn with pride and honour.

Hugo won first prize in the Portraits section of the 2006 World Press Photo competition for one of his 'hyena men' photographs, also from the Presence series. He has been named the Standard Bank Young Artist for 2007, and was selected for the current São Paulo Bienal. Recent group exhibitions include ReGeneration: 50 Photographers of Tomorrow: 2005-2025 at the Musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne and at Aperture in New York, as well as Street: Behind the Cliché at Witte de With in Rotterdam; in January 2007 his work will be included on an exhibition of contemporary South African photography at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (NBK) in Berlin. This year he held solo exhibitions at Bertrand & Gruner in Geneva, Warren Siebrits in Johannesburg and at Michael Stevenson, and he has a show scheduled with Stephen Cohen in Los Angeles in January 2007. His book, Looking Aside, is forthcoming from Punctum (Rome, 2006).

© 2006 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.