“I’ve been in a lot of underground mines and I always say that photography is like going down in a mineshaft. Each day I hope to go the next level down. But it’s one thing to get down; it’s another thing to bring to the surface what you find down there.”
Over the past thirty years Roger Ballen’s 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 1990’s he developed a style he describes as documentary fiction. After 2000 the people he first discovered and documented living on the margins of South African society increasingly became a cast of actors working with Ballen in the series Outland and Shadow Chamber collaborating to create disturbing psychodramas.
The line between fantasy and reality in his more recent series Boarding House and Asylum of the Birds has become increasingly blurred and in these series he has employed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques to create elaborate sets. People are now often absent altogether; replaced by photographs of people used as props, by doll or dummy parts. Ballen has invented a new hybrid aesthetic in these works but one still rooted firmly in photography.
Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950, and has lived and worked in South Africa since the late 1970’s. His mother worked as a photo editor at Magnum Photo Agency, New York, and as a teenager Ballen befriended the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, and Elliott Erwitt.
Mr. Ballen’s work has been shown in important institutions throughout the world, such as Museum Dr Guislain, Gent Belgium, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich Germany, Museum of Old and New, Hobart Australia, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, USA and Fotografiska in Stockholm, Sweden. His prints are held in many collections, such as Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; Louisiana in Copenhagen, the Tate Britain and Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
Sizes and Prices
Roger Ballen´s photographs are Silver Gelatine Prints. They are available in limited editions. Prices range from $4,000 up to $50,000, depending on size and availability.