Pieter Hugo

The African spotted hyena’s laugh is said to indicate the creature’s ability to mimic the human voice and, when coupled with the belief that this is the animal form of witches or bultungin (werehyenas), the beast is shrouded in superstition both folkloric and contemporary.

Pieter Hugo, Abdullahi Mohammed with Mainasara, Lagos, Nigeria, 2007, C-print, 152.4 x 152.4cmCourtesy artist and Michael Stevenson”Wouldn’t it be nice to be free to move about on your own, to be away from our mothers’ constant watch? Let’s throw our mothers in the river and run away!” So begins a Kenyan story of the jackal and hyena, where hyena is tricked by jackal into throwing his mother in the river. This deception is followed by revenge and an ultimate co-dependency between these motherless scavengers “for food and company”. Mythologically the hyena has been portrayed as an equivocator roaming between lonely mischief-maker and sinisterly supernatural. The African spotted hyena’s laugh is said to indicate the creature’s ability to mimic the human voice and, when coupled with the belief that this is the animal form of witches or bultungin (werehyenas), the beast is shrouded in superstition both folkloric and contemporary.It is this same instability which pervades the reading of Pieter Hugo’s Gadawan Kura (or “hyena handlers” in one Nigerian dialect, Hausa) series. Ten of these have been exhibited in the Foam_Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam under the title, The Hyena & Other Men…READ FULL REVIEW IN PRINT EDITION
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