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Nollywood – Pieter Hugo

Nigeria’s film industry, Nollywood, the third largest after Bollywood and Hollywood, releasing 500 to 1000 movies each year, is a fascinating business. Simple scripts, low cost equipment, a production process that lasts less than a week; these movies are fairly different from blockbusters by Nollywood’s richer counterparts, but they are a unique example of African self-representation.

The country has a rich tradition in story telling, which is translated into easily accessible mass media by the industry. Local actors play scenes that are familiar to their public: romance, comedy, tragedy, horror; witchcraft, bribery, and prostitution. The hybrid mix of parts from classic plays and figures from local mythology has a bizarre and highly original outlook.

South African photographer Pieter Hugo traveled to Nigeria to capture the edgy Nollywood phenomenon. In his photographs, the actors pose in costume in front of the camera in settings that seem to be very random, but are meticulously chosen. The artistic language Hugo uses is complex and therefore the more fascinating. The fact that these photographs are obviously posed, adds to the awareness of the viewer that these images are representations of something already artificial, but nonetheless truly happening.

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