Heavy discussions going on about whether or not Pieter Hugo's work is racist. HERE, and HERE. Of course these things need to be discussed and there's far cleverer people than me doing it so I don't want get involved in the back and forth. Too much rhetorical rigour for this numpty I'll just end up shouting arse or something.
No I don't claim to be an academic I tend to work via gut instinct which is fine as an artist that's as important a trait as anything. I know I'm not black and I'm sure I can't begin to understand all the issues but I really like these pictures always have. Maybe I'm a bit odd but far from seeing something derogatory in that image I just think "Fuck me a hyena on a lead that's top, that blokes the bollox"
A Nigerian (black) friend of mine who now lives in Manchester thought the same when I showed him. He was positivly proud and started to take the piss out of local scallies and their piss poor Staffies.
The other thing I'm confused about is this. Lets pretend that these images are never going to end up in a gallery and lets pretend that Pieter Hugo has no ambitions to be an artist, what if he was a pure documentary or reportage photographer, would that be OK to photograph the Hyena men? The speed things change in this world the Hyena men may not be around 50, 100 years from now. Surely photographing them for posterity is worth while? We can always remove them at a later date if we still don't like them Orwellian style. These are questions asked HERE. I guess I'm so used to constantly seeing pictures of Africans being portrayed as victims that I only saw the positive in this work. I thought it was a refreshing change.