Pieter Hugo's latest photobook is the result of Hugo's travels to Mexico over two years, sparked by an invitation to make work 'about sex and mortality' for an exhibition in Oaxaca. Hugo writes:
Mexico has a particular ethos and aesthetic; there is an acceptance that life has no glorious victory, no happy ending. Humour, ritual, a strong sense of community and an embrace of the inevitable make it possible to live with tragic and often unacceptable situations.
There is a very different relationship with death here to what I am used to. If one looks beyond the clichés of dancing skeletons and sugar skulls, there’s a deeply complicated connection with mortality. This necropolitical dynamic is most visible in contradictory expressions of honouring the afterlife, in the Day of the Dead celebrations and the brutal dismemberment of bodies by narco traffickers.
Alongside the flamboyance and high-pitched register of this series, there is the ordinariness of the everyday. I am drawn to the fabulousness of the banal and the banality of the exotic.
The beautifully printed, large-format book includes essays by Mario Bellatin and Ashraf Jamal, the latter concluding:
Hugo does not lie, or pretend, or presume. Within the falsity that is photography he is able to body forth the human, not as a type, or caste, raced or sexualised identity, but as a creature traversed by these descriptors yet never reducible to them. Therein lies the intelligence of Hugo’s optic, therein the humanity in images of men and women hobbled by life, but triumphal all the same.
Published by Editorial RM | 2019
Hardcover, 35 x 31cm, 132 pages | ISBN 978-84-17975-15-9 | Price: R1 500