Exhibition Review: Pieter Hugo 1994 at Yossi Milo
By Baylee McKeel
Pieter Hugo’s new body of work, 1994, on view at the Yossi Milo Gallery through March 11, 2017, is a hauntingly beautiful series full of re-born hope and fleeting innocence. His photographs document children born in South Africa and Rwanda after the monumental year of 1994; a year in which South Africa saw the collapse of Apartheid and the Rwandan genocide began between the Hutus and Tutsis. Hugo photographs these children brought into a world of reconciliation, a world full of possibility but simultaneously scarred by violence. His work balances between art photography and photojournalism, producing photographs that are too compelling to turn away from.
The children stand apart from the surrounding earth while also sinking into it, echoing the ways that they are able to separate themselves from the struggles of their parents and remain burdened by them. The large scale of the photographs is striking, taking up an entire half-wall and confronting you the second you step into the gallery. The gaze of the children is unforgiving, a girl in a pink tinted cloth captured my attention amidst the others. She sits with the wilderness behind her, yet it creeps into the photograph, into her physical space as she grasps a plant in either hand. I am reminded of the beauty and animosity of nature, seized by the serenity of her gaze, the soft color of the fabric against the harsh clay of the earth behind her. Hugo captures the children as individuals in these stunning portraits that represent a generation and its complex identity steeped in past violence and a hopeful future.
Instagram: YossiMilo Twitter: YossiMilo Facebook: YossiMiloGallery