Is this Nollywood?

With few exceptions, I usually celebrate South African photographers. Among them is Pieter Hugo, whose most recent work, “Nollywood”– a series of portraits recreating what for Hugo represents “archetypical characters” from the southern Nigerian film industry–opens tonight (from 6:00 to 8:00 pm) at Yossi Milo Gallery in Manhattan (525 West 25th Street). Anyway, not everyone is as pleased with Hugo’s portrayal of Nollywood. I received this email last week:

I thought it [is] all [the] way off. Not in a white/black or outsider/insider way, but just off: I don’t get the feeling that Pieter [has] seen or read a single Nollywood thing. As someone who has seen, oh, a 100 of these films (which is admittedly 98 too many), I thought: (a) there are things to appreciate and things not to, and [he does not] seem to get that, (b) what’s the deal with the freaks ‘n fatties theme? particularly seeing as it is completely absent in the films themselves, (c) it’s just a strange, strange perspective on nollywood, in a really un-nice way. I guess I sound like I’m ranting unnecessarily, but it annoyed me that [he’s] being celebrated mildly when in fact it seemed as if [he] should be mildly ignored.

What do you think?

Sean Jacobs

Sean Jacobs is on the international affairs faculty of The New School. He is the Founder and Editor of Africa is a Country.


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