Friday, November 18, 2011

Pieter Hugo, Permanent Error @ Yossi Milo Gallery

I really liked Hugo’s pictures of the African drama troupe being directed into set-up dramatic narrative pictures in Africa. The pictures felt like the last possible gasp for set-up photography, Hugo showing a part of the world that is almost exclusively seen with the impartial lens of reportage, through a conceptual gesture like set-up photography made set-up photography seem relevant. At times the drama troupe pictures were too over the top and felt a tad amateurish. But a dude in a suit in front of a burnt out lot drenched in the blood of the gutted animal on his shoulder or a naked dude in a Darth Vader mask sure as hell kicked the shit out of anything in the set-up genre for the last twenty years or so. 

Unfortunately, it seems Hugo has returned to safer ground with his new pictures of African laborers in front of trash dumps, where I am assume they might work at. The portraits tend to be a little lifeless and lack the unfathomable situations of his hyena men and honey-collector portraits. The work isn’t bad, but at the same time it could have easily been a National Geographic story or source material for art Vic Muniz might make out of garbage.

Down already
Yossi Milo Gallery (525 W 25th St. Btw. 10th & 11th Aves.)


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