Roger Ballen (1950) is one of the most important photographers of his generation. He was born in New York but has been living and working in South Africa for over 30 years. Over the past thirty years his distinctive style of photography has evolved using a simple square format in stark and beautiful black and white. In his earlier works his connection to the tradition of documentary photography is clear but through the 1990s he developed a style he describes as 'ballenesque'. In 2009, he presented his work for the first time in Ljubljana at Galerija Fotografija with world premiere of Boarding House and Retrospective 1982 – 2004 in Jakopič Gallery. In his recent series he has employed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques to create elaborate sets. Ballen has invented a new hybrid aesthetic in these works but one still rooted firmly in photography. Thames&Hudson released his book The Theatre of Apparitions in 2016. In a departure from his existing oeuvre, intricately layered images occupy a space between painting, drawing and photography linking image-making and theatrical performance. In September 2017, Thames&Hudson released Ballenesque, Roger Ballen: A Retrospective, a major retrospective of his collected works. In 2019, the book The World According to Roger Ballen was released, coinciding with a major exhibition of his works in Halle Saint Pierre, Paris. His contribution has not been limited to stills photography and Ballen has been the creator of a number of acclaimed and exhibited short films that dovetail with his photographic series'. The collaborative film I Fink You Freeky, created for the cult band Die Antwoord in 2012, has garnered over 125-million hits on YouTube.
Text courtesy Galerija Fotografija.
For nearly 40 years Roger Ballen has been an outsider, operating on the margins with his fellow art brut artists. Now a new book and exhibition offer a glimpse inside the workings and processes of his
You were born in New York and later moved to and lived in South Africa for many years, you have shot a great deal of images of white people who live in South Africa, what is your original creative thought? How does this migration, geo-cultural difference influence your creation? Roger Ballen: I really took a lot of pictures of African white...