PIETER HUGO

Hobbled by life, but triumphal all the same
LA CUCARACHA


On home and belonging
FLAT NOODLE SOUP TALK
KIN
MESSINA/MUSINA


The possibilities of portraiture
THE JOURNEY
THERE’S A PLACE IN HELL FOR ME AND MY FRIENDS
LOOKING ASIDE


West Africa works
PERMANENT ERROR
NOLLYWOOD
THE HYENA AND OTHER MEN
WILD HONEY COLLECTORS


Remembrance and inheritance
1994
RWANDA: VESTIGES OF A GENOCIDE


Flirtations with popular culture
PH X HBA
 CONTROL


INFORMATION
@pieter.hugo.official
Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010

Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009

Al Hasan Abukari, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009


Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009

Ibrahim Sulley, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009 


Yaw Francis, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009


Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010
Al Hasan, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009

Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010

Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009

Abdulai Yahaya, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010

Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010

Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010

Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010

David Akore, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010

Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010


Amama Suleiman, Agbogbloshie Market, Ghana, 2009


Yakubu Al Hasan, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009


Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009


Saani, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009


Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009-10


Aissah Salifu, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010


Abdulai Yahaya, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010


Naasra Yeti, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2009


Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010


Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana 2009

Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010


Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010


Issaku Moses, Agbogbloshie Market, Ghana, 2009






















Agbogbloshie Market, Zakaria Salifu, Accra, Ghana, 2010 (triptych)


Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana, 2010


Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana 2009



Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana 2010



Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana 2010


Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana 2009-10


Untitled, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana 2010








PERMANENT ERROR (2010)


This essay was photographed on a densely populated triangle of land in the Ghanaian capital of Accra. Bounded by the Abossey Okai Road and Odaw River, a polluted waterway that flows into the Korle Lagoon, Agbogbloshie is the second largest e-waste processing area in West Africa. It abuts Old Fadama, an impoverished settlement that offers northern migrants to the city the cheapest rents and a convenient base close to the central markets, a major employer. Home to an estimated 80 000 inhabitants, this mixed-used area on a former wetland consists not only of formal and informal residences for disenfranchised migrants to the city, but a commercial bus depot, and a vast and differentiated marketplace that includes specialised e-waste markets. An irregular activity until a few years ago, large volumes of end-of-life computers and television are now handled by Ghana’s port daily. Shipped under pretext of being reusable electronic goods, items that are not saleable end up at Agbogbloshie, nicknamed by locals as ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’.

It is here that circuits, transistors, capacitors and semiconductors are reduced to their base metals. There is, one has to admit, something beautifully alchemical about what’s happening there: these devices that are the pinnacle of cultural achievement get transformed back into their base elements. Of course, this is the sympathetic reading of an artist. The political ecologist Paul Robbins has described the dump as ‘a bizarre engine that maintains a self-replicating worldwide system of over-production’. I think it is fair to say that Agbogbloshie is a dark and dirty monument to the digital age, to our faith in technology and its built-in obsolescence. This idea of surplus and waste, which is key to our digital experience, is not one that many people seem comfortable addressing. Being in an environment like this, where geopolitical imbalances are being exploited to effectively dump waste on poor countries, it is hard not to take a political position. And so I have let my photographs be used by advocacy groups.

I first encountered the dump in a photograph published by National Geographic. This is a recurrent theme in my photography, how photographs prompt me to make my own photographs. The work was produced during two trips of two weeks each. I tend to photograph over two-week stretches. I find this is a period in which I can keep my eye fresh. After that you become too accustomed to a place. It was something I realised in Rwanda, how quickly one becomes desensitised and acclimatised to completely unacceptable situations, how the mind is capable of this.


©2003—2019 Pieter Hugo, All Rights Reserved