The Digital Wasteland: Africa’s Agbogbloshie Market

A dump site for digital technology, Africa’s notorious Agbogbloshie Market is a toxic wasteland where Europe’s outdated computers are scavenged for spare parts and torched to recycle precious materials. The surreal site in the capital city of Accra has been burdened with tribal rivalries, drug problems, and child trafficking, while receiving repeated warnings from international agencies about massive emissions of noxious fumes, threatening the pickers, and poisonous chemicals, seeping into the soil.

A surprisingly suppressed story, it recently gained worldwide attention when the New York Times Magazine published pictures of the heavily polluted place by South African photographer Pieter Hugo. Previously praised for his colorful portrayal of Nollywood, Nigeria’s explosive film capital, Hugo possesses an acute aesthetic eye, along with a fearlessness to confront and expose the shameful side of commercial consumption and the enormous amounts of unwanted waste tied to the rapid evolution of digital technology.

Pieter Hugo’s exhibition Permanent Error is on view at Michael Stevenson in Capetown, South Africa. A book of the photographs will be published by Prestel in Spring 2011.

Click through below for a gallery of images.

Pieter Hugo, Yakubu Al Hasan, Agbogbloshie Market, Accra, Ghana 2009, Courtesy Michael Stevenson, Cape Town and Yossi Milo, New York