ROGER BALLEN | 罗杰 • 拜伦
(American, b. 1950)
One of the most influential and important photographic artists of the 21st century, Roger Ballen’s photographs span over forty years. His strange and extreme works confront the viewer and challenge them to come with him on a journey as he explores the deeper recesses of the human psyche.
Born in New York, Ballen has lived and worked in South Africa for over thirty years. His work originally as a geologist took him into the countryside and led him to take up his camera and explore the hidden world of small South African towns. At first he explored the empty streets in the glare of the midday sun but, once he had made the step of knocking on people’s doors, he discovered a world inside these houses which was to have a profound effect on his work. These interiors with their distinctive collections of objects and the occupants within these closed worlds took his unique vision on a path from social critique to the creation of metaphors for the inner mind. After 1994 he no longer looked to the countryside for his subject matter finding it closer to home in Johannesburg.
In his artistic practice Ballen has increasingly been won over by the possibilities of integrating photography and drawing. He has expanded his repertoire and extended his visual language. By integrating drawing into his photographic and video works, the artist has not only made a lasting contribution to the field of art, but equally has made a powerful commentary about the human condition and its creative potential.
In 2017, the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town named its photographic facility the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography ensuring that Ballen’s work and contribution to the photographic arts will continue well into the future. Ballen's photographs have been published in numerous acclaimed monographs including, Platteland (1994), Outland (Phaidon, 2001), Shadow Chamber (Phaidon, 2005), Boarding House (Phaidon, 2009), Asylum of the Birds (Thames & Hudson, 2014), The Theater of Apparitions (Thames & Hudson, 2016), and Ballanesque (Thames & Hudson, 2017).