A couple of weeks ago I read an article about albinism in Africa. Albinism is a congenital disorder that affects skin pigmentation. In most African countries it can lead to expulsion and discrimination. Albinism is referred to as ‘sope’, meaning something magical inhabited by powerful evil spirits; albinos sometimes are even hunted for their body parts, which are supposed to be useful for curing various diseases.
It made me wonder whether this could all be filed under lack of education as the article lets us believe. Or, could it be the case that we share collective prejudices only slightly curbed by education? What can we do about our own prejudices, then?
Pieter Hugo confronts us with these prejudices as we look at his frontal portraits. Here we see what we usually choose to look at from the corners of our eyes. His series: Looking Aside (2003/2005) not only questions why we are so awkward when we encounter people who are unusual in some way but at the same time also force us to think about the meaning of ‘black’ and ‘white’.